Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Ayumu Ishikawa overcomes early struggles, leads Marines past Lions

Kyodo

Ayumu Ishikawa pitched out of early trouble, allowing the Chiba Lotte Marines to come from behind in a 5-2 win over the Seibu Lions on Tuesday.

The Marines snapped the Lions’ season-opening, eight-game winning streak.

Ishikawa, coming off a nightmare 2017 season, improved to 2-0. The 29-year-old right-hander allowed a run and three hits in 6-2/3 innings. He walked four, while striking out eight.

“His fastball wasn’t running at the start of the game, but he made adjustments and gutted through that,” rookie Lotte skipper Tadahito Iguchi said of Ishikawa.

The Marines’ Seiya Inoue singled and scored the tying run on a fifth-inning error. He drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth off Lions starter Ken Togame (1-1).

Kazuya Fukuura set up the hosts’ third run in the seventh. The 42-year-old’s leadoff double, his 1,968th career hit, set the stage for catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura to drive in pinch runner Ryo Miki with a sacrifice fly.

Togame allowed three runs — two earned — over seven innings. The sidearmhurler gave the Marines batters fits with good movement on his pitches and surrendered just two hits but issued four walks and hit a batter.

He could have kept Lotte off the board in the fifth. With two out and two on, he stabbed a shot back to the mound, but his throw to first sailed over his teammate’s head, allowing the tying run to score.

In contrast to Togame, who did not allow a base runner through the first four innings, Ishikawa did not find his rhythm until he was down a run in the second inning. With speedy Shuta Tonosaki on first and one out in the second, the Lions’ Ernesto Mejia drilled a fat fastball to the gap in right for an RBI double. Ishikawa walked the next batter, but got out of the inning with a strikeout, and retired 15 of the last 17 batters he faced.

“It was quite tough, but I was able to scrape by tonight,” Ishikawa said. “I just tried to work carefully to each batter in turn, and a good result came out of that.”

Lefty Takahiro Matsunaga got the Marines out of the seventh by striking out dangerous leadoff hitter Shogo Akiyama, and longtime Texas Ranger right-hander Tanner Scheppers worked a 1-2-3 eighth to preserve the two-run lead.

Lions reliever Hayato Takagi allowed two runs — one earned — as the Marines sealed the game in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run single by Taiwan journeyman Lee Tu-hsuan.

“Our reserves came prepared and ready to play and contributed,” Iguchi said. “And Scheppers again came in and shut them down in solid fashion.”

Marines reliever Tatsuya Uchi loaded the bases with one out on two walks and an infield single. One run scored on a groundout to second, but Akiyama fouled out to end the game.

Fighters 4, Hawks 1

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Naoyuki Uwasawa (1-0) allowed a run in seven innings and Hokkaido Nippon Ham took the lead for good over Fukuoka SoftBank by scoring a run on four straight, fourth-inning singles.

Backup Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu, who entered the season with one career homer in 121 career at-bats, hit his third in three games.

Eagles 4, Buffaloes 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takayuki Kishi (1-0) gave up a run in six innings, Carlos Peguero hit a two-run home run off Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (0-2) and Tohoku Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui sealed the win with his first save of the season.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 3, Swallows 0

At Nagoya Dome, 23-year-old right-hander Yuya Yanagi threw a two-hitter for his first career shutout, and Zoilo Almonte singled in two runs as Chunichi blanked Tokyo Yakult.

Tigers 4, Carp 3

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin overturned a two-run deficit in a three-run sixth, built on three walks, an error and an infield single in a win over Hiroshima.

Carp starter Yasuki Yabuta walked eight batters.

BayStars 4, Giants 3

At Tokyo Dome, Koji Uehara (0-1) allowed three runs on five hits in the eighth inning to take the loss for Yomiuri, and Yokohama closer Yasuaki Yamasaki worked a scoreless ninth to earn his 100th career save.

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