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John E. Gibson

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Wada seizes moment to help Dragons grab win

by John E. Gibson (Jun 6, 2008)

Chunichi's Kazuhiro Wada came up big by taking a dive.

The 36-year-old Wada, who went hitless on Thursday, made the play of the day, diving to pick off a sinking liner with the bases packed to help to preserve a three-run lead.

The catch kept the Lotte Marines off the scoreboard in the seventh inning, and the Dragons, powered by Norihiro Nakamura's three-run homer, went on to a 4-1 interleague win before 8,263 rain-threatened spectators--the smallest crowd of the season at Chiba Marine Stadium.

"I just try to do what I can to help the team," said Wada, who had an RBI. "I'm not the greatest defensive player, but that ball was in my range and I had to get to it.

"He got jammed a little bit and I knew it wouldn't carry that well. If the runner on first had come around to score, it would have tied things up."

The Central League's second-place Dragons scored all four of their runs in the third inning, but were tied up for most of the night at the plate.

"There isn't much to say about this game," Chunichi skipper Hiromitsu Ochiai grumbled afterward. "In fact, it was a pretty lousy game. The best thing was Wada's catch."

Takashi Ogasawara put in a quality start for Chunichi in a makeup of Tuesday's rainout. The little lefty frustrated the Pacific League's last-place Marines, allowing a run over 6-1/3 innings to win his second straight decision.

Ogasawara (6-3), a Chiba native, pitched around seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

"I was kind of all over the place at the start, and my pitches off the plate were way off the plate," Ogasawara said.

"That took the fielders out of their rhythm. But the guys behind me really picked me up."

Super closer Hitoki Iwase allowed a hit, but nailed the win down in the ninth for his 17th save.

Chunichi packed all its offense into one inning, Nakamura capping a four-run outburst with his 10th homer of the season. The shot put him one away from 350 in his career.

The win was the ninth straight the Dragons have posted when Nakamura hits a home run.

The Dragons pinned Lotte teen rookie Yuki Karakawa (3-1) with his first pro loss, although the right-hander lasted seven innings, allowing six hits and two walks while fanning two.

Kohei Oda started Chunichi's only scoring rally, serving a high Karakawa curve into left field. Masahiro Araki stroked a single to center and, one out later, Tyrone Woods walked to load the bases.

Wada's sacrifice fly got the Dragons on the board, and Nakamura put a high fastball into the jet stream to right for a 4-0 Chunichi lead.

"We'd been in kind of a rut recently and I think that homer helped to change that," said Nakamura, who came into the game batting .189 with no RBIs in 12 interleague games. "I was hoping the wind would catch it and that's what happened."

The Marines, who came into the game with the top team average in interleague (.290), couldn't solve Ogasawara until two were out in the fifth inning.

That's when ninth-year outfielder Ryusuke Minami took a 2-2 curve and yanked it out to left for his first pro home run.


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