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Omatsu, 'Submarine' sink Lions

by Jim Allen (Mar 22, 2010)

Told he'd get more games against left-handed pitchers this season, Shoitsu Omatsu made the best of his first chance on Sunday.

The left-handed-hitting Omatsu drove in both of Chiba Lotte's runs off southpaw Kazuyuki Hoashi as the Marines gave Norifumi Nishimura his first victory as a manager with a 2-1 win over the Saitama Seibu Lions at Seibu Dome.

"I was told before the game I'd start against him," said Omatsu, who batted .234 against lefties last season in 128 at-bats.

The slugging outfielder tied the game with an RBI single in the fourth and led off the seventh with a home run.

"I got some big hits off Hoashi last year and I didn't have any negative feelings about facing him. The manager told me I'd start more this season against lefties, and I was really pleased to be able to hit when it mattered most."

The Marines got 7-2/3 solid innings out of right-hander Shunsuke "Submarine" Watanabe, who earned his first win over the Lions in more than a year.

"I only won three games all last season, so it really feels good to get No. 1. My pitches weren't moving all that well but I battled. A lot of things weren't working and I need to make some adjustments for next time."

Watanabe allowed eight hits and walked three while striking out two. Lefty Hiroaki Hattori and righty Yoshihiro Ito got the Marines out of the inning and Yasuhiko Yabuta made a grand return to Japanese ball. After two seasons in the United States with the Kansas City Royals, Yabuta retired all three batters he faced to earn his first save for the Marines in three years.

Nishimura said he was glad to have Yabuta around until closer Hiroyuki Kobayashi returns from a stiff elbow.

"I believe in Yabuta," Nishimura said. "It wouldn't be any good if I didn't, would it?"

Seibu opened the scoring in the second on a G.G. Sato double and a two-out RBI single from Yasuyuki Kataoka.

Sato, however, helped the Marines tie it in the third. The Lions left fielder failed to make shoestring catch that turned a single by Tadahito Iguchi into a double. With two down, Omatsu tied the score with a soft line single to center.

Hoashi was lucky to escape a jam in the sixth, but Omatsu struck again in the seventh. The Marines No. 5 hitter took the southpaw deep, hitting a 1-2 palmball over the fence for his first homer of the season.

"I still had a good feeling from hitting well my previous time up. The first hit was off a tough pitch. Today, my parents are here from Kanazawa and it's great to be able show them I'm doing well."

The Marines continued to get nothing from new first baseman Kim Tae Kyun, who struck out four times in his Japan debut on Saturday and whiffed his first two times against Hoashi, both times with runners in scoring position.

The right-handed slugger finally made contact in the sixth, but lined into an inning-ending double play with the runners on first and second on the move.

In other Pacific League games:

Hawks 2, Fighters 1, 11 innings: Nobuhiro Matsuda homered off closer Hisashi Takeda in the top of the 11th inning as Fukuoka SoftBank won its second straight in Sapporo.

Hiroki Kokubo doubled home Jose Ortiz to tie it in the seventh and the bullpen trio of Tadashi Settsu, Brian Falkenborg (1-0) and Takahiro Mahara shut down lat year's league champs for the second day in a row.

Buffaloes 5, Eagles 4: Mitsutaka Goto's solo homer off closer Kazuo Fukumori (0-1) tied the game with one out in the ninth and a wild pitch from Shinichiro Koyama gave Orix its second straight win over Rakuten at Kyocera Dome Osaka.

Todd Linden put the Eagles up 4-2 with a three-run homer in the sixth.

Veteran So Taguchi, playing his first game for Orix after eight seasons in the major leagues, went 3-for-4 with a walk.


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