Karakawa helps Marines top Giants, become winningest team in NPB


Yuki Karakawa worked into the eighth inning to earn the victory as the Pacific League-leading Chiba Lotte Marines defeated the Yomiuri Giants 4-3 on Friday in an interleague battle between Japan’s best two teams.

Karakawa (3-3) allowed three runs — two earned — in 7 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who did not surrender a run until the seventh, allowed seven hits and hit a batter, while striking out five.

“He had very good late movement on his fastball,” said Lotte skipper Tsutomu Ito. “After his last start, we talked about him being more aggressive with it.”

Tadahito Iguchi opened the scoring in the top of the fifth off D.J. Houlton (4-2), who lasted just 3 2/3 innings. Lotte’s Daichi Suzuki hit another two-run shot in the fourth to hasten Houlton’s exit.

Rookie Takahiro Matsunaga inherited a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth and got out of the inning with just one run scoring. Closer Naoya Masuda, who blew a save against the Giants at Tokyo Dome on May 15, worked a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.

“I know I’ve caused some concern and I’m sorry for that. I really wanted to pitch well and get some revenge (against the Giants),” said Masuda, who pitched in his 18th game in May, equaling the PL record for a single month.

The record was set by Hall of Famer Kazuhisa Inao in September 1956. The CL record of 17 belongs to current Yomiuri Giants closer Kentaro Nishimura.

The Marines now own the NPB’s best record (30-18-1), moving past the Giants, who fell to 29-19-3.

Lions 4, Swallows 1

At Seibu Dome, Seibu’s Hideto Asamura broke a scoreless tie by leading off the bottom of the eighth inning with a home run and won it with a three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth against Tokyo Yakult.

Kazuhiro Hatakeyama’s two-out RBI double for the Swallows in the top of the ninth tied it against Seibu closer Dennis Sarfate, spoiling eight scoreless innings for Lions starter Kazuhisa Makita. Asamura then homered in the ninth with two on and two out off Tony Barnette (0-2).

Dragons 5, Fighters 4

At Sapporo Dome, Hector Luna’s seventh-inning RBI single broke a 4-4 tie as Chunichi won a seesaw battle with Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Luna went 2-for-5 to keep his batting average at .400. He reached on a two-out double in the third and scored on Kazuhiro Wada’s game-tying, two-run homer in the third.

Buffaloes 4, Tigers 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix’s Kei Igawa (1-0) made his season debut with a win against Hanshin, his former club. The former Tigers ace allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Aarom Baldiris gave the Buffaloes the lead with a first-inning RBI single. Yoshio Itoi’s two-run single in the third broke a 1-1 tie, and Lee Dae Ho’s solo homer provided a big insurance run for Orix.

Eagles 10, BayStars 3

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Kazuo Matsui led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run, and rookie Takahiro Norimoto (5-3) allowed two runs in seven innings, as interleague leader Tohoku Rakuten defeated Yokohama to win its third straight game.

Andruw Jones went 2-for-3 with a walk, two home runs and five RBIs for the Eagles, while Casey McGehee also went deep for the hosts.

Hawks 10, Carp 2

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Fukuoka Softbank rapped out 14 hits, including one from each of its nine starters, en route to its fourth straight victory, a come-from-behind win over Hiroshima.

Trailing 2-1 in the third, the Hawks put five runs on the board, with Yuki Yanagita delivering the big blow, a two-run double. Lefty Kenji Otonari (3-3) worked five-plus innings to earn the victory.