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Marines cover boy Omatsu comes good

by Jim Allen (Apr 16, 2008)

The Marines made Shoitsu Omatsu look good by putting him on the cover of their program. He didn't waste much time repaying the favor.

The Chiba Lotte cleanup man turned the game around with a fourth-inning home run as the Marines came from behind to beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 7-6 at Chiba Marine Stadium on Tuesday.

"They put my picture on the cover of the program for this series, so I wanted to produce and meet the team's expectations," said Omatsu, whose three-run shot overturned a two-run Eagles lead.

It was his fourth homer of the season.

Veteran Marines right-hander Shingo Ono (1-0) allowed five hits in six innings for the win in his fourth start this year. The 33-year-old struck out two and walked one in front of a crowd of 17,336.

Pacific League batting leader Takeshi Yamasaki helped give the Eagles a two-run lead. The designated hitter singled in a run in the first inning and then singled and scored in the fourth.

Second-year Rakuten right-hander Satoshi Nagai (2-2) struck out the side in the bottom of the first en route to retiring the first 10 batters he faced.

But after losing his hitless streak on a pair of fastballs that had no business being hit, Nagai went from unlucky to unimpressive in a hurry. Omatsu crushed a hanging slider to help send Nagai to his second straight loss.

"Today one of my teammates from college came to the game for his birthday. I guess I was able to show how I've developed," Omatsu said. "I think it [the home run] made a good present."

Satozaki and Omatsu each singled with one out off Nagai in the sixth. Benny Agbayani followed with an RBI single that plated Satozaki and chased Nagai. Omatsu went to third on the play and came home on a groundout.

Nagai (2-2) struck out eight, but the 22-year-old allowed five runs on six hits and a walk.

Ono left after six and a leadoff walk issued by Tomohisa Nemoto brought Brian Sikorski to the mound. The hyperactive veteran threw a scoreless inning, but the Eagles got back in it in the eighth as both teams began bleeding profusely from the bullpens.

Marines lefty Yusuke Kawasaki allowed a pair to score in the top of the eighth, while three Eagles relievers conspired to give the runs back in the bottom of the inning.

Marines closer Tadahiro Ogino returned the favor in the top of the ninth, giving back two runs before ending the game with his fourth save of the season.

"It was a tough night for all the relievers--for both teams," said Marines skipper Bobby Valentine. "It was a cold night and it looked like they had a hard time getting a grip on the ball."

The Eagles got on the board first with the help of a fluke hit. Leadoff man Naoto Watanabe hit a broken-bat comebacker, but the sawed-off barrel of his bat struck Ono in the shin and felled him in front of the mound.

"I didn't have any feeling there right after I was hit," Ono said. "The accident not withstanding, I settled down and did my job."

In other Pacific League games:

HAWKS 7, BUFFALOES 3: SoftBank's Jeremy Powell, who beat Orix in a preseason contract dispute, defeated the Buffaloes on the field at Kyocera Dome Osaka for his first victory since Oct. 10, 2006.

Powell, making his first PL start since 2005, allowed two runs in six innings and left with the game tied 2-2, but Munenori Kawasaki broke the tie with a seventh-inning RBI triple.

Nobuhiko Matsunaka helped take Powell off the hook with a game-tying, two-run homer in the sixth.

FIGHTERS 3, LIONS 3, 12 innings: Saitama Seibu's Yasuyuki Kataoka's eighth-inning RBI double tied it and the Lions played to a 12-inning tie against Hokkaido Nippon Ham at Seibu Dome.

===

Central League

TIGERS 5, CARP 0: Scott Atchison (3-0) worked six innings and combined with three relievers on a four-hit shutout as Hanshin beat Hiroshima at Koshien Stadium.

It was the Carp's second straight shutout loss, although they had 11 hits and a walk in their scoreless loss to the Chunichi Dragons on Sunday.

DRAGONS 6, GIANTS 3: Chunichi shelled Yomiuri ace Koji Uehara for six runs in four-plus innings as the Dragons overcame two homers by the Giants' Yoshinobu Takahashi to win at Nagoya Dome.

The Giants' Alex Ramirez played in his 500th straight game, becoming the first foreign player to do so.

SWALLOWS 2, BAYSTARS 1: Masanori Ishikawa (3-1) allowed a run in seven innings and Kazuhiro Hatakeyama hit a tie-breaking sixth-inning solo homer as Tokyo Yakult beat Yokohama at Jingu Stadium.

Offseason acquisitions Takahiko Oshimoto and Lim Chang Yong each threw an inning of scoreless relief for the Swallows.


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