CHIBA--A Lotte bonehead play, a Boca bomb and a stellar outing from lefty Kazuyuki Hoashi contributed to Seibu's 4-0 shutout of the Marines in Pacific League play Sunday.
Lions starter Hoashi (3-0) kept the Marines' batters in check all afternoon at Chiba Marine Stadium, limiting them to just three hits over the distance, and G.G. Sato smacked a two-run homer, his eighth of the season, in the fourth inning as the front-running Lions improved to 21-13-1.
"I developed a sinker-like changeup in spring camp this year and it has been very effective, especially against right-handed batters," said Hoashi, a Fukuoka native in his eighth year.
Hoashi threw 123 pitches in his complete-game win, striking out five and walking one batter while lowering his ERA to 2.38.
Meanwhile, Marines starter Hiroyuki Kobayashi fell to 1-5 with the loss. A 13-game winner last season, Kobayashi continued to struggle this year, giving up three runs on eight hits in five innings. The lanky right-hander struck out three and walked a pair.
After Craig Brazell singled to lead off the fourth for Seibu, Sato drilled a Kobayashi delivery into the stands in left to give the Leos a 2-0 lead.
The Lions put another run on the board in the top of the fifth, thanks in large part to a bizarre play by Lotte second-baseman Jose Ortiz. Seibu's Takumi Kuriyama slammed a ground ball toward first base and Julio Zuleta dove to his right to try and make the play. The ball got past Zuleta, however, and continued into right field, where Ortiz threw his glove at the rolling ball. The umpires huddled and Kuriyama was awarded third base on the play, which should have been a single. The next batter, Yoshihito Ishii, knocked a sacrifice fly out to center field to score Kuriyama and make it 3-0.
"Temporary insanity," is how Marines manager Bobby Valentine described Ortiz's actions. "It's something I hope to never see again."
Hiram Bocachica continued to swing a hot bat in his first year with Seibu. The former major leaguer smoked a solo home run to straightaway center off reliever Yoshihiro Ito in the sixth inning. It was Bocachica's sixth dinger of the season and his fifth since being recalled from a 10-game stint in the minors on April 26.
Boca also doubled in third inning, although that was more a result of the swirling winds coming off Tokyo Bay than a powerful stroke on his part. He popped a ball up in shallow left and what would normally have been a routine flyout turned into a stand-up double when twisting and turning shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka couldn't get his glove on the ball.
Valentine used five men in relief of Kobayashi. Ito, Koji Takagi, Katsuyuki Aihara, Tomohisa Nemoto and Satoru Komiyama combined to give up three hits over the final four frames.
Lotte's record dipped just under .500 as they fell to 18-19 on the season.
The win allowed the Lions to take two out of three from Lotte at Chiba Marine Stadium. Seibu won 5-0 on Friday while on Saturday 18-year-old rookie pitcher Yuki Karakawa whiffed 10 and allowed just three hits over the distance as the Marines hammered the Lions 10-1.
Prior to Sunday's game, the Marines announced that catcher Tomoya Satozaki (right elbow) and outfielder Saburo Omura (left hamstring) had been taken off the 25-man roster. Naotaka Takehara and Takumi Kobe were added to the roster.
(IHT/Asahi: May 5,2008)