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Omatsu's 7th-inning blast leads Marines over Lions

by Rob Smaal (Mar 22, 2010)

Shoitsu Omatsu gave the Marines their first win of the post-Bobby V era with an RBI single and a seventh-inning solo homer that proved to be the difference as Lotte edged the Lions 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Seibu Dome.

The Marines had dropped their Pacific League season-opener by the same score--and in similar fashion--to the Lions a day earlier.

"Things weren't going that well offensively for us so I thought the guys in the bottom half of the order had better get something going," said Omatsu, who actually hit in the No. 5 spot.

Omatsu's blast to right came off Seibu starter Kazuyuki Hoashi, who took the loss. Lefty Hoashi allowed two runs on six hits through seven innings. He struck out five and did not issue a walk, although he did hit one batter with a pitch.

"He threw me a slider (on the home run) and I'd felt pretty good in my previous at-bat," Omatsu said. "My parents were here from Kanazawa so it was nice to be able to get such a big hit with them in attendance."

Soft-tossing veteran Shunsuke Watanabe picked up the win Sunday. The submarining right-hander kept the Lions offense off balance with his looping curves and offspeed pitches. He went 7 2/3 innings, allowing one run on eight hits and three walks before new skipper Norifumi Nishimura lifted Watanabe after he gave up a two-out single to Yoshihito Ishii in the bottom of the eighth.

Yasutaka Hattori and Yoshihiro Ito split the rest of the inning before Yasuhiko Yabuta, who recently returned to the club after an unproductive stint with the Kansas City Royals, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save.

Yasuyuki Kataoka got Seibu on the board first with an RBI single to left in the second inning, but Lotte got that run back in the fourth. Tadahito Iguchi hit a sinking liner to left that skipped under the glove of outfielder G.G. Sato and went in the books as a double. Two batters later, Omatsu lined an RBI single to center that scored Iguchi from second to tie it.

The result gave Nishimura his first win as Lotte's field boss. He replaced Bobby Valentine, who was let go after piloting the club for the previous six seasons, which included a Japan Series championship in 2005.

The Marines new South Korean cleanup hitter Kim Tae-kyun continued his early struggles. After striking out in all four at-bats on Saturday, Kim whiffed his first two trips to the plate Sunday. When he finally did get some wood on the ball, he lined into a double play in the sixth. He flew out to center in the eighth to remain hitless so far this season.

In Saturday's season-opener, Hiroyuki Nakajima and newcomer Dee Brown each hit solo home runs in the seventh inning off Lotte starter Yoshihisa Naruse to give Seibu a 2-1 victory.

Hideaki Wakui struck out 11 through eight innings to get the win. Wakui, who won the Sawamura Award as Japan's top starting pitcher last year with a 16-6 record, allowed one run on seven hits. Brian Sikorski worked a scoreless ninth Saturday to pick up his first save in a Seibu uniform.


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