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Lions’ Hideto Asamura ignites late comeback against Marines

Kyodo

Hideto Asamura’s seventh-inning RBI single snapped a 4-4 tie before the Seibu Lions batted around in the eighth to bury the Chiba Lotte Marines 10-4 on Friday.

The win moved the Pacific League-leading Lions five games ahead of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks after the defending champions lost 3-1 at home. Seibu hasn’t won the PL pennant or Japan Series since 2008.

Facing lefty Kota Matsunaga (2-3) with two outs and Yuji Kaneko on second after a leadoff double, Asamura singled to left to put the hosts in front.

“Our starting pitcher wasn’t at his best, so we all wanted to back him up and get some runs on the board,” Asamura said. “We’ve come this far, we definitely want to win the championship.”

Trailing by three runs in the sixth, Seibu tied it against Kota Futaki. Sosuke Genda singled, stole second, went to third on a groundout and scored on a Hotaka Yamakawa single. After a hit by Takeya Nakamura, new pitcher Yuki Karakawa walked Tomoya Mori to load the bases. Ernesto Mejia tied it at 4-4 with a two-out, pinch-hit single.

After a 1-2-3 first inning, Seibu starter Yusuke Kikuchi (11-4) was lucky to allow just a run on three hits in the second inning. The hosts tied it in the bottom of the second on Takumi Kuriyama’s sixth home run.

Hiromi Oka put the visitors back in front in the third. Acquired in July in a trade from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Oka doubled to lead off the inning, took third on a fly to right and scored on Taiga Hirasawa’s sacrifice fly.

Oka denied the Lions the tying run in the third, when Kaneko tried to score from second on a Genda single. But Oka threw a strike home for the second out of the inning. Oka then walked to open the Marines’ fifth and scored on Hirasawa’s third homer of the season, giving Lotte a 4-1 lead.

Both starting pitchers allowed four runs. Futaki lasted 5-1/3 innings, while Kikuchi went seven.

“It’s been so long I don’t remember the last time I had three hits in a game,” said Kaneko, who also stole two bases and drove in a run in the eighth.

Buffaloes 3, Hawks 1

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Donn Roach (2-1) held Fukuoka SoftBank to a run over seven innings, and Tatsuya Yamaashi, Orix’s eighth-round draft pick last autumn, overturned a 1-0 deficit with his first home run, a three-run blast off Kodai Senga (11-5).

Fighters at Eagles — ppd.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

BayStars 4, Swallows 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Shoichi Ino (5-3) allowed two hits over seven shutout innings, Masayuki Kuwahara ended a scoreless pitcher’s duel with a seventh-inning RBI single, and Yokohama added another three runs against Tokyo Yakult’s bullpen in the eighth.

Dragons 3, Carp 0

At Nagoya Dome, lefty Shotaro Kasahara (4-3) threw a three-hitter against Hiroshima, while Yohei Oshima scored Chunichi’s first run and homered to produce an eighth-inning insurance run.