BayStars slugger Murata delivers winning blast in seventh


Staff Writer

Shuichi Murata had played six straight games without hitting a home run. Even worse, his Yokohama BayStars had gone six games without a win.

One swing of the bat changed all that.

Murata hit a two-run homer to left in the seventh inning and the BayStars snapped their losing streak with a 2-0 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Friday at QVC Marine Field.

“It’s been awhile for him,” BayStars manager Takao Obana said. “I’m glad he could do it tonight.”

Yokohama hadn’t won since beating the Yomiuri Giants on May 11, and looked headed for another setback.

Lotte ace Yoshihisa Naruse had the game well in hand, entering the seventh having allowed just two base runners, before Terrmel Sledge began the inning by lining a single into center.

Murata then sent a 1-2 slider into the seats to give his squad a 2-0 advantage.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Murata said of Naruse. “So I thought we would only have one chance.”

Murata said interleague play is tough because of the unfamiliarity with Pacific League pitchers. Luckily for the BayStars, he was able to figure out Naruse during his third at-bat.

“I had a good idea about him by then,” Murata said.

Murata had the big blast, but the BayStars’ pitching had just as much to do with snapping the skid as Murata did. Five Yokohama hurlers combined to hold the Marines to no runs and just two hits.

“Our pitchers did their best tonight,” Obana said.

Kota Suda got the start and pitched scoreless ball into the sixth. He ran into trouble in that frame, walking Kei Hosoya, hitting Shota Ishimine and issuing a free pass to Tadahito Iguchi to load the bases with one out.

That prompted Obana to go to his bullpen with Kazuya Fukuura due up, calling on rookie lefty Shinji Ohara. The move paid off as Ohara forced Fukuura into an inning-ending double play.

Ohara (2-0) faced one batter and was credited with the win. Suda allowed no runs and two hits through 5? innings, but did not factor in the decision. Closer Shun Yamaguchi walked a batter in the ninth, but held on for his eighth save of the year.

Naruse (3-2) lost for the first time since Opening Day, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out nine over eight innings.

“We scratched one out,” Sledge said. “We’re just trying to take it day by day. We’ve got a one-game winning streak now.”

Yamada tosses shutout


Hiroki Yamada pitched his first career shutout and Munenori Kawasaki had a pair of RBI triples, leading the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks to a 4-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers on Friday.

Fighters 3, Giants 1

At Sapporo Dome, Eiichi Koyano drove in all three runs and Bobby Keppel threw eight shutout innings as Hokkaido Nippon Ham ended Yomiuri’s winning streak at three games.

Dragons 6, Lions 5

At Seibu Dome, Takahiro Saeki capped off his four-hit night with a go-ahead two-run single as Chunichi scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning to down Seibu.

Eagles 2, Swallows 1

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Masahiro Tanaka struck out a career-high 15 batters in his third complete game of the season as Tohoku Rakuten edged Tokyo Yakult.

Buffaloes 3, Carp 2

At Kyocera Dome, Takahiro Okada hit a three-run double in the seventh, leading Orix past Hiroshima.