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Longest Japan Series game in history ends in 15-inning tie

by Jim Allen (Nov 7, 2010)

The longest game in Japan Series history ended in a 2-2 tie on Saturday night at Nagoya Dome, ensuring there would be a Game 7 here on Sunday.

Chiba Lotte Marines closer Hiroyuki Kobayashi shut the Chunichi Dragons down over the last two innings to preserve Lotte's 3-2 Series lead.

The game, which lasted 5 hours 43 minutes, was also the first 15-inning game in Series history and saw both teams use 15 pitchers between them.

The Dragons broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth on an RBI double by Tony Blanco, but the Marines tied it in the eighth on Saburo Omura's second RBI single of the game.

Rookie Yohei Oshima, who entered as a defensive replacement in center field, made a Series-saving catch for the Dragons in the top of the 11th.

With their backs to the wall, the Dragons started Game 2 winner Chen Wei-yin against fellow southpaw Yoshihisa Naruse, who won Game 1.

Naruse allowed two runs and five hits over six innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts. Chen allowed a run in seven innings on four hits and two walks.

The teams traded runs in the first, when both leadoff men reached base. Omura singled home Tsuyoshi Nishioka from third with two outs to open the scoring against Chen. In the home half, Masahiko Morino doubled off the wall to plate Masahiro Araki from second and tie the score.

The Marines put together a scoring opportunity in the sixth, but it was short-circuited by a good defensive play and Nishioka's inability to lay off pitches out of the zone.

Dragons shortstop Araki robbed the Marines of a leadoff single, going deep in the hole to his right to snare a grounder and throw out Tomoya Satozaki lumbering toward first. A one-out single by Yoshifumi Okada and a bunt put speed on second with two outs, but Nishioka struck out on a high inside fastball as Chen left the mound pumping his fist.

Blanco, who struck out to end the first with Morino on second, put the Dragons in front in the bottom of the sixth. Hirokazu Ibata set the table by singling to complete a disciplined seven-pitch at-bat and stealing second. With first open, Naruse pitched around Kazuhiro Wada to get to Blanco, who was 4-for-22 in the Series.

Blanco drove a 1-0 fastball away for an opposite-field double high off the right-field wall to plate Ibata. It was Blanco's eighth RBI of the Series.

Kim Tae Kyun singled to open the Marines' seventh, but was stranded at second. A pair of pinch-hitters made no impact and cost the visitors both Naruse and their best defensive outfielder, Okada.

Tatsuya Uchi went to the mound for the Marines in the bottom of the seventh, and the game moved completely into the hands of the bullpens when Ryo Nakata batted for Chen and doubled with two outs.

Setup man Takuya Asao took the mound for the Dragons in the top of the eighth. After making Nishioka look bad, Asao got a first-ball forkball up, and rookie Ikuhiro Kiyota tattooed it into the gap in right-center for a double.

With two down, Omura went after a 1-2 slider low out of the zone from Asao and drove it to left center to tie it with his second RBI of the game and fifth of the Series.

After two impressive innings from Uchi, the Marines sent right-hander Yoshihiro Ito in to pitch the ninth. Ito, who walked 26 batters in 64 2/3 innings during the regular season, walked Motonobu Tanishige with one out. Masaaki Koike, who twice led the Central League in sacrifice hits, made out when his bat hit the ball while it was in play on an 0-2 bunt attempt.

Ito gave the Series its second extra-inning game when he struck out Hidenori Kuramoto to end the ninth.

Dragons lefty Akifumi Takahashi, the Game 4 winner in relief, walked the first man he faced, but Nishioka popped up a bunt to the pitcher, who doubled off the runner at first.

Oshima singled to open the home half, making him the first runner allowed by right-hander Yasuhiko Yabuta in the Series.

Araki popped up his bunt attempt for the first out, but Ibata got one down. Morino walked after a wild pitch put Oshima on third base, but Wada grounded the Dragons out of the inning.

Oshima saved the Series for the Dragons in the top of the 11th with a super running catch in center field. Tadahito Iguchi singled to open the inning and the Omura bunted the Marines into their second double play in two innings.

The Marines rebounded and created another chance with two outs. Toshiaki Imae walked to send Takahashi to the showers and Kim singled off right-hander Junichi Kawahara.

With the outfield shallow to prevent Imae from scoring on a single, Satozaki drove one toward left-center. Oshima, sprinting full speed, made the catch with his back to the plate to bring the Nagoya Dome crowd to its feet.

The Dragons loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 11th, but Araki lined out to first against Shingo Ono, the third Marines pitcher of the inning.

The Dragons brought in closer Hitoki Iwase to pitch the top of the 12th and the lefty retired the side in order.

Chunichi was bitten by the double play bug in the bottom of the inning, when Ibata opened with a single only for Morino to ground into a 4-6-3 twin-killing.

Maximo Nelson took over for Iwase for two innings, handing the ball over to Yuichi Hisamoto, who retired the Marines in order in the 15th, striking out Nishioka for the third out to end Lotte's hopes of a six-game Series triumph.


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