Shogo Nakamura did the bulk of the damage against Masahiro Tanaka and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles’ bullpen on Saturday, paving the way for a 3-1 Chiba Lotte Marines win that knocked their opponents off the top of the Pacific League standings.
Nakamura doubled in the only run the Marines could manage against Tanaka over seven innings, and then homered to open Lotte’s eighth off reliever Hiroyuki Fukuyama (0-2) to break a 1-1 tie at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
The home run was Nakamura’s second of the year. He also singled and doubled for the hosts. Brandon Laird followed Nakamura in the eighth with his 10th home run of the season and his third in three games.
Tanaka allowed two walks and six hits, while striking out three, but was easily matched by his former Eagles teammate, Lotte starter Manabu Mima.
Mima allowed a run on five hits and two walks, but while Tanaka’s teammates made a handful of excellent plays that prevented him from taking the loss, the Marines’ fielders were rarely challenged.
“I knew coming in I was facing a really good pitcher, but Mima has been delivering a string of gutsy performances recently, so I wanted to get a run on the board as quickly as I could and I’m glad I could drive one in,” Nakamura said.
Marines dynamo Leonys Martin reached base twice with a walk and a third-inning single, when he scored on Nakamura’s run-and-hit RBI double.
“Martin was on the move and ran the bases well, so that run was to his credit,” Nakamura said.
The Eagles tied it through Ryosuke Tatsumi, who doubled, took third on a grounder to short, and scored on Hideto Asamura’s sacrifice fly.
Marines reliever Yuki Karakawa (3-1) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to earn the win, while closer Naoya Masuda earned his 11th save.
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Nick Martinez (3-1) struck out nine over seven scoreless innings, and Yuki Yanagita homered and drove in four runs as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks beat the Orix Buffaloes 7-2. The win lifted the defending champion Hawks into first place.
At MetLife Dome, Cory Spangenberg’s fifth-inning three-run home run brought the Saitama Seibu Lions from a run down in their 8-1 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Kazuma Okamoto’s 12th home run, a three-run blast, helped power the defending Central League champion Yomiuri Giants to a 5-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons.
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yasuhiro Ogawa (4-1) threw eight scoreless innings and Scott McGough got three outs in the ninth inning with the tying run on third base to secure his second save in the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ 1-0 win over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.
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