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Naruse, Marines march to victory in Series opener

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Naruse, Marines march to victory in Series opener

by Jim Allen (Oct 30, 2010)

Yoshihisa Naruse was unable to notch his third straight complete game of the postseason, but he still walked off a winner in his Japan Series debut.

The lefty allowed two runs in five innings, and the Chiba Lotte Marines had 10 or more hits for the third straight game, defeating the Chunichi Dragons 5-2 in Game 1 at Nagoya Dome on Saturday night.

Naruse, whose back-to-back complete-game victories in the Pacific League Climax Series helped the Marines into the Series for the first time since 2005, surrendered four hits and a walk and left for a pinch-hitter after throwing 88 pitches.

"In the first inning, he shut them down completely," Marines manager Norifumi Nishimura said. "In the second, his pitches started getting away from him up in the zone, but after that he was solid."

The Marines bullpen was even sharper. With the game in the balance, three relievers each worked 1-2-3 innings before turning it over to closer Hiroyuki Kobayashi, who allowed two hits but tossed a scoreless ninth.

Dragons starter Kazuki Yoshimi allowed three runs in three innings for the shortest postseason start of his career.

The Marines struck in the second inning, thanks to an ugly defensive lapse. Yoshimi got Saburo Omura to pop up to the right of the mound, where it fell as four Dragons watched. A sacrifice put Omura on second, and Shoitsu Omatsu doubled him home.

With Naruse on deck and Yoshifumi Okada pinch-running after Omatsu hobbled out of the game, Tomoya Satozaki was walked intentionally. Naruse, a career .158 hitter lined to center, where Hidenori Kuramoto saved a run with a shoestring catch.

The lead, however, evaporated in seconds. Kazuhiro Wada drove a high fastball into the seats in right. With two outs, veteran catcher Motonobu Tanishige homered to left to make it 2-1 Dragons.

The visitors, though, reclaimed the lead in the top of the third. Rookie Ikuhiro Kiyota's third postseason homer tied it and Toshiaki Imae singled home Tadahito Iguchi from second with one out.

Chunichi started the third inning by getting the leadoff runner on, but he was cut down on failed bunt attempt.

Masaaki Koike, who singled in Yoshimi's place, was cut down on a superb play by Marines catcher Satozaki. Leadoff man Masahiro Araki popped a bunt just in front of the plate and Satozaki made a tumbling catch before doubling Koike off first with a throw from his knees.

Side-arm right-hander Yoshihiro Suzuki entered in the top of the fourth and kept the visitors quiet for two innings, running his career Series record to no runs in 5-1/3 innings.

Masafumi Hirai took the mound for the Dragons from the sixth, when the Marines added a run but pulled Naruse for a pinch-hitter in the process.

Okada, a rookie speedster, opened with a leadoff single. After the obligatory sacrifice and a groundout by pinch-hitter Shunichi Nemoto, Tsuyoshi Nishioka grounded a forkball into center to make it 4-2.

Right-hander Yasuhiko Yabuta retired the Dragons in order in the sixth, and Iguchi homered off Hirai to open the seventh to close the scoring.

Tatsuya Uchi supplied the visitors with another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom seventh and Yoshihiro Ito repeated the feat in the eighth.

Kobayashi sandwiched a double-play grounder between two singles and struck out slugger Tony Blanco to close it out.

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