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Slammed / Satozaki, Lotte pound Seibu

by Jim Allen (Jun 29, 2008)

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama-- While his opponents had one eye on the past Saturday, Tomoya Satozaki was fixated on the future.

With the Pacific League-leading Saitama Seibu Lions sporting throwback Nishitetsu Lions uniforms, the Chiba Lotte captain struck a blow for the last-place Marines in an 11-3 win at Seibu Dome.

Satozaki's fifth-inning grand slam left the Lions reeling as the Marines halted a four-game skid.

"My previous time up, I came up just a little short, but this one felt good," said Satozaki, who drove one to the warning track in right to end the third inning with a man on.

"We had some bitter emotions after losing the first game after interleague. We have plenty of chances left, the only thing we can do is go forward and aim for top honors. We have to win, win, win."

It was the catcher's second homer in two days, but Friday's first-inning solo shot accounted for the Marines' only run in a 4-1 loss to the Lions.

Submarine right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe (6-4) had to pitch out of several tight spots to keep the Marines in the game early, but managed to go six-plus innings. Watanabe allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks, and he also hit a batter.

But while Watanabe walked a tightrope, Lions starter Takayuki Kishi stumbled and struck the pavement face first.

Kishi, also 6-4, allowed six runs, all earned. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed five hits, but the danger came from the two walks and the hit batsman that preceded Satozaki's second at-bat.

"When he's good, he's amazingly good, but when he's off, he can be pretty bad, so there is always that concern," said Lions skipper Hisanobu Watanabe.

Lefty reliever Koji Matsui applied fuel to the Marines' fire. He gave up a couple of runs as the game became plagued by bloop hits and flukes, but good swings on bad pitches saw him give up two more runs on Daisuke Hayakawa's two-run, eighth-inning home run.

"I'll have to think about him a bit," Watanabe said. "I am not certain if he has an out pitch right now that's going to work at this level."

The Lions struck a blow in the first inning as leadoff man Yasuyuki Kataoka manufactured a run. He bunted his way aboard, stole his Japan-best 27th base, went to third on a flyout and scored on a groundout.

Watanabe, however, escaped trouble in the bottom of the second inning, and the Marines pulled ahead in the top of the third.

A leadoff single and a sacrifice set the table for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and the Marines leadoff man doubled in the tying run. Kazuya Fukuura's two-out single put the Marines in front.

Kishi threw a 1-2-3 fourth, but filled the bags with two walks and a hit batsman in the fifth before hanging a 1-1 slider down the pipe to Satozaki.

"He looked nervous after that [loading the bases] and it came at the worst time," said Lions manager Watanabe.

The Marines remained in last place, a half-game back of the Orix Buffaloes and 9-1/2 games back of the Lions.

"The only thing we can do right now is go for it," Satozaki said. "We weren't good [in the first half], but now is our chance. We can take care of business one game at a time."

The Lions struck back for a run in the sixth on Craig Brazell's second homer of the series, an impressive blast to the back of the outfield seating that gave him the league lead with 19. Lotte's Watanabe responded by loading the bases but allowed no more runs until two infield singles in the seventh sent him packing. A perfectly placed fly ball off the bat of G.G. Sato plated the Lions' final run.


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