Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Kota Futaki holds off Hawks as Marines split series

Kyodo

Kota Futaki threw six solid innings, pitching the Chiba Lotte Marines to an 11-6 win over the Pacific League-leading Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Monday.

The win earned the third-place Marines a split of their four-game series at Yafuoku Dome after they were no-hit in Friday’s series opener. The Hawks’ loss sends them into their series against Seibu starting Tuesday with just a half-game lead over the second-place Lions.

Futaki (7-9) allowed two runs on four hits, while striking out five. The right-hander, whose fastball only touched 140 kilometers (87 miles) per hour was spared when the Hawks miss-hit most of his mistakes, and let nearly all of his first-pitch strikes go by.

The pitcher had just been recalled after being sent down to the farm for a string of poor results.

“I hadn’t been doing the things that led to wins, so I’m happy to finally win,” the 24-year-old Futaki said. “I so wanted to win after the team entrusted me with a start while we battle for a CS (postseason Climax Series) spot.”

“My teammates gave me a lead from the start, so I wanted to establish a good tempo and hold on to it,” he said.

The Marines blew the game open with four runs in the third. Leading 1-0 against Ryoma Matsuda (2-4), Hiromi Oka blasted a two-run homer. Oka had opened the game with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly. After two walks, two-out singles and Leonys Martin and Tatsuhiro Tamura each tacked on a run.

The Hawks got two back in the fourth on a two-run Nobuhiro Matsuda double after a leadoff single and a hit batsman. Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi was ejected for a “prohibited act” after he asked home plate umpire Tetsuya Shimata about the hit batsman ruling.

Both clubs piled on runs against opposing relievers but the Hawks never looked like they were mounting a serious comeback.

Elsewhere in the PL, Hideto Asamura homered in the first, tripled and scored the tying run in the seventh, and singled home the tie-breaking runs in the eighth as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles beat the Orix Buffaloes 6-4 at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.