The Chiba Lotte Marines were on the road, missing some key players because of injuries, down a run and three outs away from a loss.
But when they got their shot at a win, they managed to make the most of it.
Daichi Suzuki drove in the tying run, Shogo Nakamura added a tiebreaking single and Tsuyoshi Sugano put the cherry on top with a two-run double as the Marines rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to edge the Yomiuri Giants 6-5 on Saturday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.
“The team was kind of in a difficult position, but everyone was doing their best,” Nakamura said. “We were able to come through in the end. I’m glad I was also able to help keep it going at the end.”
Hiromi Oka got the rally started with a leadoff double in the ninth with the Marines trailing 3-2. Takashi Ogino laid down a bunt to move him to third and Suzuki came through with an RBI single to make it 3-3.
After Ikuhiro Kiyota was retired for the second out, Kazuya Katsuki singled to put runners on first and second. That’s when Nakamura connected on a fastball from reliever Seiji Tahara to make the score 4-3. Sugano tacked on a pair of insurance runs with his hit to left to increase the lead to 6-3.
“We were able to create a chance,” Nakamura said. “After Dai-san’s hit tied it, we were able to string together some hits. Katsuki got a hit and I wanted to do whatever I could to keep it going.”
The Giants didn’t exactly go down quietly in the bottom of the ninth against reliever Naoya Masuda.
Shinnosuke Shigenobu drew a walk to start the inning and Kazuma Okamoto connected on a two-run homer with two outs to pull Yomiuri within a run. Masuda then retired Alex Guerrero to end the game.
The Marines’ win wrapped up a dominant day for Pacific League clubs in interleague play. Pa League teams went 5-1 on Saturday, with only the Seibu Lions taking a loss. The PL is now 19-10 against the Central League so far this season.
Yasuhiro Tanaka (1-0) earned the win in relief for the Marines, with Masuda earning his 12th save. Starter Seiya Dohi lasted five innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
“I’m glad the team managed to win,” Dohi said. “I want to build on this next week and help contribute to another win.”
Suzuki finished 2-for-5 at the plate and also hit a home run. Kiyota was 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the fifth.
Kota Nakagawa blew the save for Yomiuri in the ninth and took the loss to fall to 2-1.
Hayato Sakamoto and Daikan Yoh homered for Yomiuri and Yoshiyuki Kamei also drove in a run.
The clubs will meet for the final game of their series on Sunday afternoon at Tokyo Dome. Giants fans will be welcoming back ace Tomoyuki Sugano, who hasn’t pitched since May 15. The two-time reigning Sawamura Award winner had been deactivated with discomfort in his hip.
Ayumu Ishikawa is scheduled to toe the rubber for the Marines.
Takahashi sharp for Carp
Rei Takahashi allowed two runs over seven innings as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks played small ball to grab a 4-2 win on Saturday over the Hiroshima Carp on Saturday.
Before a full house at Mazda Stadium, Takahashi (6-1) scattered six hits and two walks, while striking out two. The 23-year-old rookie was coming off his first loss of the season when he allowed a career-high six runs against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on June 1.
Although the Hawks entered the game with an NPB-best 79 home runs, they made good use of bunts to get past Kris Johnson (5-4), the 2016 Sawamura Award winner.
With the game tied 2-2 in the fifth, two bunts put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Seiichi Uchikawa broke the tie with a double and scored on a Nobuhiro Matsuda sacrifice fly.
Yusuke Masago opened the fifth inning by bunting and reaching on a Johnson throwing error.
“Against a great pitcher like Johnson, we knew we would have to scrape for runs, but things went our way,” Uchikawa said. “Masago started that by trying to bunt for a base hit, and was sacrificed over. I only had one hit all day, but it came at a good time.
“Our starting pitchers and relievers are doing great work for us, so it’s up to us guys in the lineup to do a better job of scoring than we did today.”
Johnson, who had won his four previous starts, allowed eight hits and a walk over five innings, while striking out seven.
Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda worked a scoreless eighth, while lefty Livan Moinelo stood in for closer Yuito Mori with a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his second save.
Eagles 2, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Takayuki Kishi (2-0) allowed a run over seven innings to earn his second straight victory and outduel Enny Romero (3-5) as Tohoku Rakuten topped Chunichi.
The Eagles’ Yuki Matsui recorded his 18th save.
BayStars 7, Lions 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Yokohama starter Shoichi Ino (3-2) gave up two first-inning runs, but followed that with five scoreless innings against Seibu.
Ino delivered a game-tying, second-inning single and scored the go-ahead run.
Fighters 10, Tigers 5
At Koshien Stadium, Chihiro Kaneko (3-3) worked six scoreless innings and Ryo Watanabe iced Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s victory over Hanshin with a seventh-inning grand slam.
Buffaloes 5, Swallows 4
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Stefen Romero went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and a three-run shot, and five Orix pitchers held Tokyo Yakult scoreless on one hit and one walk over the final six innings.