The defense and pitching weren’t perfect, but the Chiba Lotte Marines’ offense was just fine after two weeks off.

News photoChiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine (right) shakes hands with Sun Dong Yol,
manager of the South Korean champion Samsung Lions, before their Asian Series game at Tokyo Dome.

Lotte topped the South Korean champion Samsung Lions 6-2 in Konami Cup Asian Series play at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

Earlier in the opening game, Chang Chien-ming hit a three-run homer and Lenin Picota pitched seven shutout innings as Taiwan’s Sinon Bulls whipped the China Stars 6-0.

The Konami Cup features the champions from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and an All-Star team from China.

Even Lotte’s fortnight of inaction leading up to the game did not stall the Marine Machine and it’s “Bobby Magic.”

The win improved Lotte’s record postseason to 10-2 under American manager Bobby Valentine.

“This is our first game in a while,” Japan Series MVP Toshiaki Imae said. “I’m just glad I could still hit.”

Imae, who opened the Japan Series with eight straight hits, was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and two runs Thursday.

Lotte posted three runs in the first inning, and starter Hiroyuki Kobayashi lasted six innings, surrendering six hits and two earned runs while striking out four.

Marines shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka led off the game, tripling off the right-field wall and setting up Samsung starter and ex-Chunichi Dragon Martin Vargas for a rocky return to Japan.

Imae singled up the middle to score Nishioka.

“Tsuyoshi made a triple before me, so I was able to be relaxed,” Imae said. “It was good for us to score first in this kind of game.”

After Matt Franco walked, Saburo Omura doubled in a second run, allowing Korean Lee Seung Yeop a chance to do some damage against his former team.

Lee hit a sacrifice fly to left field that rounded out the scoring in the first.

The Marines made Vargas pay for a lack of variety in his pitching repertoire.

“He threw many fastballs, so I tried not to be overwhelmed by his power,” Saburo said. “We can’t lose in front of this many Lotte fans.”

The white-shirted Marines cheering section was out in force again, helping drive the attendance to 27,305.

Vargas regained his composure and kept the Marines off the scoreboard for a couple of innings, but Tasuku Hashimoto’s solo home run in the fourth inning and two more runs in the fifth made the lead even more comfortable.

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