Seth Greisinger was back in his old stomping ground, but for all it mattered, he could’ve been on the moon.
The important thing was that he’d helped his team knock off the Pacific League leaders. Now that was something worth talking about.
Greisinger threw 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball and rookie reliever Naoya Masuda recorded the two biggest outs of the night as the Chiba Lotte Marines edged the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 2-1 on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.
“It was a team win,” Greisinger said. “Masuda was just unbelievable in the eighth inning. Basically saved the day for us. Everybody just had a great game.”
Greisinger (3-0) continued his strong start to the season against NPB’s hottest team. He threw 103 pitches and allowed seven hits while striking out six and walking one.
“You can’t many mistakes against the Fighters, because they have such good pitching,” Greisinger said. “Every game seems to be a close game with them.”
Shortstop Shunichi Nemoto drove in both runs for the Marines with a game-tying single in the sixth and a go-ahead single in the eighth.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Fighters, who had won seven of their last eight.
Nippon Ham starter Kazuhito Tadano (1-0) had a strong outing, throwing seven innings of one-run ball. Tadano gave up five hits and struck out four. He also made some nifty plays in the field, none better than when he snatched a hard-hit liner out of the air for the first out of the fourth.
Fighters veteran Atsunori Inaba collected the 1,994th hit of his career with a triple in the seventh and Sho Nakata’s lone hit was an RBI single in the first.
Greisinger called Tokyo Dome home for four seasons (2008-11) as a member of the Yomiuri Giants. He led the Central League with 17 wins in his first year with the team and was 31-22 overall.
Being back, didn’t seem to conjure up any special memories.
“I like the mound here,” Greisinger said. “It’s a small ballpark. Other than that, it was a good game by the team. Whatever field we’re playing at, we’re trying to win the ballgame.”
Greisinger said he was a little tired in the latter stages of the game and found himself in a tight spot after giving up two one-out singles in the eighth.
He was relieved by rookie Yuhei Nakaushiro, who went right back to the dugout after hitting Yoshio Itoi to load the bases.
Masuda was then tasked with escaping the jam. He retired Nakata for the first out, bringing Inaba, who entered the game hitting .360 with three home runs and 23 RBIs, to the plate.
Masuda worked the count even at 2-2 before Inaba got on top of a fastball and Nemoto scooped up the resulting grounder and threw to first to end the inning.
Marines closer Yasuhiko Yabuta worked the ninth for his seventh save of the season.
“At that point in time, I’m out of the game, so there’s nothing I can do,” Greisinger said. “You let them do what they’ve been doing all year long. Both Nakaushiro and Masuda have been great. It’s nice when you can come out of the game, then have those guys come in after you and Yabuta to finish it up.”
Fighters reliever Naoki Miyanishi (0-1) was charged with the loss after allowing Nemoto’s RBI single in the top of the eighth.
The two teams will meet in the second game of their series on Wednesday at Tokyo Dome. Hayden Penn (1-1) will be on the mound for the Marines while Tomoya Yagi (1-2) will toe the rubber for the Fighters.
Eagles blank Buffaloes
Takahiro Shimomi and Darrell Rasner combined on a six-hit shutout as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles handed the Orix Buffaloes their fourth straight loss, a 4-0 defeat on Tuesday.
Shiomi (2-2) struck out nine over eight innings at Kleenex Stadium. Kazuo Matsui hit a solo home run in the first inning off Alfredo Figaro (0-4) among his three hits.
Hawks 1, Lions 0
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Hiroki Yamada (3-1) combined with two relievers on a four-hit shutout as Fukuoka Softbank sent Seibu to its third loss in a row.
Nobuhiro Matsuda singled in the game’s only run in the first inning, reaching 20 RBIs in the Hawks’ 21st game of the season.
The Lions’ Kazuhisa Makita (1-2) took the loss.
Carp 1, Tigers 0
At Koshien Stadium, Shota Dobayashi hit his first career home run and Kenta Maeda pitched eight shutout innings as Hiroshima edged Hanshin to end a three-game losing streak.
Dobayashi broke a scoreless tie in the eighth inning when he drove a 2-0 slider from Randy Messenger over the wall in center field.
Maeda (3-1) held the Tigers to just two hits, walking one and striking out eight in a 106-pitch outing.
The 24-year-old ace, who threw a no-hitter on April 6 against the Yokohama BayStars, did not give up a hit until Keiichi Hirano reached on an infield single with one out in the sixth.
Hanshin had the potential tying run on third base with two outs in the ninth against Dennis Sarfate, but the Hiroshima closer struck out Craig Brazell swinging to end the game and pick up his fourth save.
Messenger (2-1) struck out nine and allowed two hits in eight innings of work. Both teams finished with three hits each.
Swallows 4, Dragons 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Wladimir Balentien hit a two-run homer in the third inning as Tokyo Yakult beat Chunichi, leaving the two teams tied for first place in the Central League.
Shohei Tateyama (2-0) threw six innings of one-run ball. Daisuke Yamai (0-3) gave up four runs in four innings for the Dragons, whose winning streak ended at five games.