TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – Brandon Laird went deep for the go-ahead run in the seventh inning as the Chiba Lotte Marines came from behind to beat the Seibu Lions 6-5 in the Pacific League on Monday.
With the visitors trailing 5-4, Laird sent Kyle Martin’s 2-2 slider to the right of the MetLife Dome scoreboard for a two-run blast.
The 31-year-old Californian, who represented the PL in Japan’s All-Star Series on Friday and Saturday, said he had simply been aiming for “a good at-bat” before belting his 25th homer of the season.
“Martin’s a good pitcher, he throws hard. I was just making sure I had a good pitch to hit and didn’t miss it,” Laird said. “It felt great. It was a big situation. To start off the second half (of the season) like that, it’s a big win against a good team and hopefully we can just be ready tomorrow.”
Daiki Iwashita (4-2) got the win after a six-inning start in which he struck out two, while giving up five runs on eight hits and a pair of walks.
Naoya Masuda got his 17th save, while former Boston Red Sox pitcher Martin (2-4) was tagged with the loss.
The Lions had taken a 4-1 lead in the first inning after Sosuke Genda scored on a Tomoya Mori groundout, followed by an RBI double from Takeya Nakamura and a two-RBI single from Takumi Kuriyama.
The Marines drew level in the top of the second, with Tatsuhiro Tamura coming home on a Takashi Ogino sacrifice fly before Yudai Fujioka and Katsuya Kakunaka scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch from Lions starter Tatsuya Imai.
Yuji Kaneko scored Mori with a single to left in the bottom of the sixth, to put the Lions back up 5-4 and set the stage for Laird’s heroics.
Eagles 6, Buffaloes 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Shu Sugahara (1-2) got his first win of the season as Tohoku Rakuten beat Orix. The right-hander struck out three and did not issue a walk over five innings, conceding a pair of runs on five hits.
Fighters 5, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, second-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham scored four runs in the first inning, including two on a triple from Kensuke Tanaka, in a win over SoftBank in a clash of the top two teams in the standings.
Carp 8, BayStars 5
At Yokohama Stadium, Hiroshima scored four runs in the opening frame en route to a victory over the BayStars that snapped an 11-game losing streak.
Dragons 4, Tigers 2
At Nagoya Dome, Yohei Oshima scored the go-ahead run on a Zoilo Almonte double in the eighth as Chunichi beat Hanshin.
Giants 7, Swallows 4