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John E. Gibson

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Yamamoto hurls Buffaloes to win over Marines

by John E. Gibson (Jul 4, 2009)

Shogo Yamamoto gave the Orix Buffaloes something they've seen far too few times this season: A tone-setting start.

Yamamoto (5-2) went six innings, frustrating the Lotte Marines by working around nine hits and a walk with nine strikeouts in a 6-2 victory on Friday night at Chiba Marine Stadium.

The win was his fifth, good for second-best on the club, but only one other hurler--Chihiro Kaneko at 8-4--has more than three wins for the Pacific League's last-place team.

Other than allowing a mammoth solo home run in the third inning, Yamamoto made pitches when he had to.

"It doesn't matter how many hits you give up, you just have to hang in there and battle," said Yamamoto, who won for just the second time in his past seven starts.

"This season I haven't been able to hold people off, but even when I got into trouble tonight, I was able to battle."

Said Orix skipper Daijiro Oishi: "I think he was trying to be too fine at times and that cost him. But he was able to cover his mistakes by striking out people."

Orix backed his performance with 12 hits, including a two-hit night by Jose Fernandez who homered and doubled.

No. 9 batter Koji Yamasaki put the Buffaloes on top with a clutch RBI single in the fourth inning, and was one of four players with two hits.

A night after playing the longest game in Pacific League history--a 5-hour 42-minute win at Seibu Dome--the Marines looked a bit sluggish. They piled up 11 hits, but went a collective 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi (1-6) pitched poorly again, allowing six runs, four earned, on 11 hits and a walk, while fanning five over 6-1/3 innings.

Right after the Marines took a 2-1 lead on Koichi Hori's long two-run blast to dead center field, fifth-place Lotte showed why this season has been a struggle.

With one out, Takeshi Kitagawa was credited with an infield single when Chase Lambin couldn't come up with his grounder. Tadahito Iguchi booted a tailor-made double-play ball for his third error of the season, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka fielded a bouncer and tried to toss it his with his glove hand, but the throw went wide for his third error and another blown chance at a twin-killing.

With the bases loaded, Hiroyuki Oze drove in Orix's second run with a sacrifice fly, and Yamasaki followed with a single to center to give the Buffaloes a 3-2 lead.

Fernandez crushed a 1-0 fastball to the back wall of the stadium in left for his seventh homer, a solo shot in the fifth that made it 4-2 Orix. The Buffaloes added runs in the sixth and seventh to close out the scoring.


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