Fukuura delivers big hit to ignite Marines


Staff Writer

The Chiba Lotte Marines’ vintage uniforms might not start any baseball fashion trends, but they suit Kazuya Fukuura just fine.

Fukuura hit a three-run double in the first inning that put the Marines ahead early and starter Yoshihisa Naruse made sure they never looked back in a 4-1 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Tuesday at QVC Marine Field.

“This is our last series wearing these pink uniforms,” Fukuura said of the team’s throwback gear. “I’m happy I could get a good hit while wearing it. These are the uniforms we wore when I first joined the team. Even though I was a pitcher back then.”

Fukuura was already in a reflective mood heading into the game after Chiba’s Narashino High School, which he attended, advanced to the Best 8 at the National High School Baseball Championship earlier in the day.

“All the kids at my alma mater are working hard,” said Fukuura, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs. “So I can’t lose either.”

The Marines opened the bottom of the first with singles by Shota Ishimine and Yoshifumi Okada. Jose Castillo drew a walk later in the inning to load the bases with two outs.

Fukuura then sent a curveball from Brian Wolfe into left field, allowing speedsters Ishimine and Okada to score easily. Castillo turned on the jets as well to hustle home from first and put the Marines out front 3-0.

“I thought the ball would be caught,” Fukuura said of his hit. “So I guess it turned out well.”

Naruse took over from there and kept the Fighters off the scoreboard until Bobby Scales’ solo homer, his seventh of the season, in the sixth inning.

“Naruse’s form was good tonight,” Lotte manager Norifumi Nishimura said.

Naruse (9-8), allowed one run on five hits over eight innings. He struck out one and walked none to win his third straight start.

“He did a great job tonight,” Scales said. “Yeah, I got two hits and hit the homer, but for the most part he shut us down. Five or six hits and one run over eight innings, that’s a great outing.

“Whether it’s our pitchers or it’s their pitchers, anytime you do that you give your team a chance to win, and they won.”

Yasuhiko Yabuta worked the ninth for the Marines to earn his 24th save of the season.

Three Marines finished with multi-hit nights, with Fukuura, Ishimine and Toshiaki Imae all going 2-for-4. Shunichi Nemoto was hitless in three at-bats, but contributed with an RBI groundout in the fourth.

Scales led the Fighters at the plate, adding a double in the eighth to finish 2-for-4.

Wolfe (10-5) allowed four runs on six hits over five innings and was charged with the loss. He struck out four and walked one.

Hawks edge Buffaloes


Seiichi Uchikawa hit a go-ahead two-run homer with two outs in the fifth and D.J. Houlton (12-5) surrendered three runs in five innings against the Orix Buffaloes in the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks’ 4-3 victory on Tuesday.

Eagles 8, Lions 4

At Seibu Dome, Fuminori Yokogawa hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth inning off Kazuhisa Makita (2-6) as Tohoku Rakuten prevailed in a seesaw contest against Seibu.


Giants 3, Dragons 2

At Nagoya Dome, Dickey Gonzalez limited the damage to two runs in 6⅓ innings, Hayato Sakamoto had a two-run double and Yomiuri beat Chunichi.

Swallows 5, BayStars 1

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama and Josh Whitesell hit back-to-back RBI singles, breaking a 1-1 tie in the fifth, as Yakult beat Yokohama .

Carp 3, Tigers 1

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, pinch hitter Tomonori Maeda delivered a two-run double off closer Kyuji Fujikawa (3-2) in the ninth and Hiroshima held on to defeat Hanshin.