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Marines fight off Dragons for Japan Series title

by Jim Allen (Nov 8, 2010)

The Chiba Lotte Marines wrapped up the franchise's fourth Japan Series title on Sunday with an 8-7 extra-inning victory in Game 7 at Nagoya Dome.

Yoshifumi Okada's two-out RBI triple off Dragons reliever Takuya Asao gave the Marines their third lead of the game and lifted the club to its first Series title since 2005.

Lotte, the first third-place team to reach the Series, improved to 8-3-1 on the road in the postseason. It entered Game 7 with a 3-2 Series lead after Game 6, the longest Series game in history, was declared a tie after 15 innings.

Toshiaki Imae, who won his second Series MVP Award, opened the 12th with a walk from Asao, starting his fourth inning of relief after facing eight batters on Saturday. A sacrifice by Marines reliever Yoshihiro Ito advanced Imae, and Okada's RBI triple knocked Asao from the game.

Imae went 4-for-5 in Game 7, finishing the Series 12-for-27 with four runs and six RBIs.

The Dragons, who blew an early four-run lead, tied it in the bottom of the ninth against closer Hiroyuki Kobayashi.

The run ended a string of five scoreless innings by the Lotte bullpen that prepared the groundwork for the Marines' counterattack.

Trailing 6-3, Yasuhiko Yabuta threw two perfect innings of relief, and Lotte tied it in the top of the fifth on a two-run double by Tomoya Satozaki.

Kim Tae Kyun's single plated Imae with the go-ahead run in the seventh as the Marines took their second lead.

Tatsuya Uchi followed Yabuta on the mound and struck out seven in three scoreless innings before handing it over to closer Kobayashi a one-run lead.

Kazuhiro Wada, however, tripled to open the ninth and scored on a massive sacrifice fly by Tony Blanco, who drove in his ninth run of the Series.

Kobayashi worked a scoreless 10th, and Ito retired the Dragons in order in the 11th. The right-hander, working in his fourth game of the Series, retired a pair of veterans to open the 12th. Motonobu Tanishige flied out to right, Hirokazu Ibata struck out looking and pinch-hitter Atsushi Fujii grounded out to end the Central League champs' season.

After both teams combined for four runs over 15 innings the night before, they came out firing in the first

The Marines had four first-inning hits, but let Dragons starter Kazuki Yoshimi off the hook by scoring just twice. Tadahito Iguchi doubled in the first run and another came home on a Saburo Omura sacrifice fly.

The failure to put a bigger number on the board came back to haunt the Pacific League representatives, when the Dragons hammered Shunsuke Watanabe.

The submarine right-hander walked the leadoff man. A sacrifice and a Masahiko Morino single opened Chunichi's account. Another single and a hit batter loaded the bases. Kei Nomoto singled in the tying run, and Tanishige's sac fly put the Dragons in front.

In the second, Masahiro Araki set up the CL champions' fourth run. The leadoff man singled, stole second and scored on rookie Yohei Oshima's single.

Marines right-hander Shingo Ono, in his fourth game of the Series, surrendered two runs in the third. Nomoto singled to open the inning and went to third on a run-and-hit single by Tanishige.

Ibata hit a grounder with double-play potential to second, but reached on a fielder's choice when Iguchi chose to look Nomoto back to third.

Nomoto then scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by Araki, and Oshima plated Tanishige with his second straight RBI single.

The Marines got a run back in the top of the fourth against Yoshimi on a Satozaki double and an Okada single. Satozaki, whose bid for a game-breaking 11th-inning double on Saturday was hauled in on a terrific catch by Oshima in center, got the ball over his nemesis' head and off the wall in center.

Yabuta took the mound in the bottom of the fourth after Ono was removed for a pinch-hitter and stopped the Dragons 1-2-3 for two straight innings.

Chunichi followed suit in the fifth, pulling Yoshimi for right-hander Junichi Kawahara, who blew the three-run lead.

Rookie Ikuhiro Kiyota singled with one out and scored as a result of back-to-back, two-out singles by Omura and Imae. After Kim was hit by a pitch, Satozaki singled home Omura and Imae to tie it.

Maximo Nelson threw a 1-2-3 sixth for the Dragons, but allowed an unearned run after two were down in the seventh.

Imae lined a first-pitch fastball off the wall in left. Left fielder Kazuhiro Wada played the carom perfectly but Imae took second when Wada's throw skipped past the cutoff man and into foul territory. A wild pitch moved Imae to third and he scored on Kim's single up the middle.

Uchi, who took the mound in the sixth, struck out seven in three scoreless innings.


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