OBIHIRO, HOKKAIDO – Yuki Ariyoshi pitched seven solid innings Wednesday but the Chiba Lotte Marines’ bullpen gave up seven runs and allowed the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to stage a late rally for an 8-7 sayonara victory.
Ariyoshi, the Marines’ fifth pick in the 2016 draft, scattered four hits and held the Fighters to a run, but a five-run eighth followed by back-to-back runs in the ninth squandered the right-hander’s work.
Sho Nakata, who drove in five runs for the Fighters on Tuesday, knocked in three more during the day game at Obihiro Stadium.
He connected on a two-out double deep to right-center in the first inning and Kensuke Kondo circled the bases and beat the tag at home as the Fighters took a 1-0 lead. Nakata drove in another run in the eighth and singled home Kondo to win it in the ninth, after the Fighters outfielder had tripled in the tying run.
“Kondo made my job easy, and I wanted to drive him in so we could win as a team,” Nakata said. “I was kind of lost in the moment, but I was so happy it got through.”
In the second, Fighters right-hander Toshihiro Sugiura was trying to protect a 1-0 lead in the second when he yielded a walk and a hit to put runners on first and second. Lotte’s Daichi Suzuki then drove in the tying and go-ahead runs.
Sugiura was replaced in the third after giving up a two-run homer to Shogo Nakamura and allowing the Marines to take a 4-1 lead.
Nakamura led off the sixth with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly, and Tatsuhiro Tamura’s seventh-inning single bounced off an outfielder’s glove to bring home Suzuki, who had doubled to left center.
Shohei Kato drove in the Marines’ final run in the eighth to make it 7-1, but the Fighters rallied against three Lotte relievers in the bottom of the inning to pull within a run.
Kenshi Sugiya led off with a solo homer, and Brandon Laird went deep to left for a three-run shot after Nakata’s second RBI of the game.
“The wind held my ball up and kept it from being a home run, while it pushed Laird’s out,” Nakata said. “I thought, ‘What’s up with that?’ since I had been trying to hit a home run.”
Marines’ righty Naoya Masuda (2-5) fanned his first batter in the ninth, but walked Go Matsumoto after a 13-pitch at-bat.
Kondo then hit his triple to tie it before Nakata ended the game with his hit.
Nippon Ham reliever Hiroshi Urano (2-5) picked up the win for retiring the side in order in the ninth.
The Fighters’ sweep of their two-game eastern Hokkaido series left them in second place in the Pacific League at 52-39, while the Marines haven’t won since they completed a three-game sweep of the Orix Buffaloes on July 22.