CHIBA – In a scene straight out of last year’s Japan Series, the Chiba Lotte Marines were mounting a late-inning rally against the Chunichi Dragons.
Chunichi has put that heartbreak behind them. This time, they made sure the Marines came up short.
Kei Nomoto hit a tie-breaking two-run single in a four-run eighth inning and closer Hitoki Iwase avoided a meltdown in the ninth as the Dragons opened the interleague schedule with a 6-5 win over the Marines on Tuesday night at QVC Marine Field.
Facing reliever Carlos Rosa with the bases loaded in the eighth, Nomoto hit a single down the first-base line that drove in two runs and gave the Dragons a 5-3 lead.
Pinch hitter Takehiro Donoue followed with a run-scoring single to extend the lead later in the inning.
Unlike in the final game of last season’s Japan Series, there was no late-game magic for the Marines this time.
But that wasn’t for lack of trying.
Chunichi reliever Takuya Asao shut Lotte down in the eighth, but Iwase began the ninth by giving up a double to Kazuya Fukuura.
The next batter, Kei Hosoya, was retired, but Yoshifumi Okada was hit with a pitch putting runners on first and second. Shota Ishimine hit a long fly ball for out two, but Tadahito Iguchi followed him with an RBI single.
Marines cleanup hitter Kim Tae Kyun then hit a run-scoring single to make the score 6-4 as Iguchi advanced all the way to third.
Iwase composed himself with the tying run at third and retired Toshiaki Imae to end the game.
Despite allowing two runs, Iwase earned the save, his seventh of the season. Iwase now has 283 career saves, trailing all-time leader Shingo Takatsu by three.
Masafumi Hirai earned the win in relief. Tatsuya Uchi, who allowed all four runs in the eighth, took the loss.
Hirokazu Ibata drove in a pair of runs for Chunichi, finishing 2-for-4. Masahiko Morino, who started the eighth-inning rally with a game-tying sacrifice fly, was 1-for-3 while Masahiro Araki led all batters with three hits.
Hosoya had a big day for the Marines in his season debut, hitting a single in his first at-bat and his first career home run the next time up.
“I’m glad I could hit my first homer,” said Hosoya, who finished 2-for-3. “I had a good image from my previous at-bat.”
Giants edge Eagles
Kenji Yano and Hidetoshi Tsuburaya delivered two-out RBI singles in the top of the ninth inning as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 4-3 on Tuesday.
Lions 4, BayStars 1
At Omiya Stadium, Hideaki Wakui pitched a complete game to earn his first win since the season opener on April 12.
Swallows 2, Fighters 0
At Sapporo Dome, Shohei Tateyama (3-1) threw eight shutout innings for Tokyo Yakult in a win over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Hawks 4, Carp 4 (11)
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Seiichi Uchikawa singled in the tying run in the eighth inning as Softbank came back to play out an 11-inning tie with Hiroshima.
Tigers 5, Buffaloes 4