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Roaring success: Kishi tosses 1st complete game as Lions win 8th straight, keep up playoff push

by Jim Allen (Sep 26, 2011)

The Saitama Seibu Lions continued their battle toward the Pacific League's final playoff spot on Sunday.

Takayuki Kishi threw a 94-pitch complete game and Takeya Nakamura hit his 42nd homer as the Lions beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 4-1 for their eighth straight win, their longest winning streak in more than a year.

The win left the Lions 4-1/2 games back of the third-place Orix Buffaloes, who won in Sapporo.

"My control wasn't really good," said Kishi (7-7), who didn't allow a base runner until the sixth inning in his first complete game this year. "But in the end I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes."

The 26-year-old allowed three hits and struck out four without issuing a walk.

Nakamura's solo shot to open the second off Hayden Penn got the Lions started, and they added three more in the third.

After Yasuyuki Kataoka doubled down the left-field line with one out and Takumi Kuriyama walked. With two outs, Hiroyuki Nakajima hammered a low pitch up the middle to score Kataoka, and Nakamura followed with a smash that consumed third baseman Shunichi Nemoto for an infield single that loaded the bases.

Jose Fernandez also smashed one to third that Nemoto could only deflect into left field, plating Kuriyama and Nakajima.

Penn (1-1), who was deactivated in April with discomfort in his right elbow after an eight-inning victory in his first start of the season, retired the last 14 batters he faced. The right-hander allowed four runs on five hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out two.

"We hadn't seen Penn in some time and he threw better than we expected," Lions manager Hisanobu Watanabe said. "It was something to be able to score off him.

"Recently, we've been winning games from behind, but today was ideal: Score first and give your starter a chance to hold the lead."

For a while, Kishi had a chance to more than just preserve the lead, having held the Marines without a base runner through five innings.

"After the fifth inning, I looked up and noticed they still had a zero on the scoreboard, but I just went out in the sixth like usual," he said.

Naoki Matoba ended any chance of Kishi making history, when he lined a high fastball into left field with one out in the bottom of the sixth.

Up to that point, Kishi had been lucky with some pitches up in the zone.

With two outs in the first, Kishi hung a curve to Toshiaki Imae, who drove it but not far enough. Left fielder Kuriyama made an excellent jumping catch to pick it off the wall for the final out of the inning.

"Our fielders showed how much heart they have, and that fired me up," Kishi said.

"The hitters have been playing catchup, I thought that if I could keep the other team off the board they would score some runs for me.

"In the back of my mind, I wanted to go the distance today and give the bullpen some rest, too."

The Marines got on the board in the bottom of the eighth, after Tadahito Iguchi tripled to right center. He scored easily when Katsuya Kakunaka grounded out to second.

Kishi allowed a one-out single in the ninth, but a hard grounder to first base by pinch-hitter Kazuya Fukuura allowed Nakamura to start a 3-6 double play that ended it in two hours, the shortest nine-inning game this year.

In other PL action, Alfredo Figaro (8-6) tossed three-hit ball for seven innings at Sapporo Dome as the Orix Buffaloes beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham 4-0, sending the Fighters to their seventh straight loss.

At Sendai, Seiichi Uchikawa singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 2-1.

The Hawks reduced their magic number to win the PL title to seven.

In Central League action, Tetsuya Utsumi (15-5) set a career high in wins as he allowed an unearned run in seven innings as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hanshin Tigers 4-2 at Koshien Stadium.

At Nagoya Dome, third-year lefty Katsuki Akagawa (5-1) pitched his first career complete game as league-leading Yakult snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Chunichi Dragons 6-1.

The win pushed the second-place Dragons 2-1/2 games back in the standings.

In Yokohama, Kenta Kurihara and Brian Barden each had three hits and two RBIs as the Hiroshima Carp racked up 18 hits in a 10-4 win over the BayStars.


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