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Iguchi's late heroics give Marines 1st win over Buffs

by Jim Allen (May 1, 2009)

Tadahito Iguchi gave the Marines a happy ending on Thursday.

His three-run, 11th-inning, sayonara home run lifted Chiba Lotte to a 5-2 victory over the Buffaloes at Chiba Marine Stadium, snapping a five-game winless streak this season against Orix.

"We feel bad about the way we've played recently, and tonight the pitchers really hung in there," said Iguchi.

The Marines bench tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth against the Buffaloes bullpen, but were stalled by two sharp innings from Orix's Ryan Vogelsong.

Marines right-hander Yoshihiro Ito pitched out of a pair of tough spots to work two scoreless innings and earn his first career win in Chiba.

"It was my fault," Ito said of his 10th-inning trouble. "I walked a batter then made a bad throw on a bunt and that set them up.

"I always pitch thinking 'Don't let the runners score,' but tonight that feeling was even stronger."

Ito climbed back in the 10th by nailing the lead runner on an attempted sacrifice. In the 11th, back-to-back, no-out singles and a sacrifice put the Buffaloes in the driver's seat, but Ito got an assist on a play at the plate before retiring the visitors on a grounder to first.

"I was in the corridor watching [Iguchi's home run], and I thought 'That's got a chance,' Ito said. "Of course, I knew I would be the winning pitcher. It always feels good to get a win, especially if you're in a role where you don't get a lot of chances."

Kazuya Fukuura opened the bottom of the 11th by taking Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara to left for a leadoff single. Tsuyoshi Nishioka followed with a single to center to bring Iguchi up.

The Marines cleanup man took a 1-1 fastball over the center-field wall to end it.

"Basically, I was looking for whatever came, but after I took a first-pitch fastball, I was on the lookout for another one," Iguchi said.

Marines starter Naoyuki Shimizu allowed two runs, one earned, in 8-1/3 innings. The 33-year-old right-hander surrendered five hits and issued four walks. Brian Sikorsky entered with one out and one on in the ninth and walked the first batter he faced before striking out the tail end of the Orix order to keep it tied.

The Marines opened the scoring in the second, when Toshiaki Imae's two-out grounder rolled to the wall in left center for an RBI double.

The Buffaloes got even in the fifth with the help of a throwing error and took the lead in the sixth on Shinji Shimoyama's solo home run.

Orix southpaw Shogo Yamamoto allowed a run on two hits and three walks over seven innings. His bid to win his second straight start went out the window in the eighth, when the relievers flubbed their lines.

Pinch-hitter Tasuku Hashimoto's leadoff single got it started against Ryota Katsuki, and Gary Burnham Jr.'s one-out, pinch-hit double off lefty Akio Shimizu plated pinch-runner Daisuke Hayakawa from second.


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