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A Lions' share: Nakajima hits grand slam, 2-run shot as Seibu routs Chunichi with season-high run to

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A Lions' share: Nakajima hits grand slam, 2-run shot as Seibu routs Chunichi with season-high run to

by Jim Allen (May 22, 2011)

Hiroyuki Nakajima drove in seven runs as the Saitama Seibu Lions slaughtered the Dragons at Seibu Dome on Saturday.

Nakajima, who homered twice, broke a third-inning tie with a grand slam as Seibu set a Japan high for runs scored in a 13-4 victory over defending Central League champion Chunichi in interleague action.

After Nakajima's two-run shot in the fourth made it 10-1, the Lions poured it on. Jose Fernandez hit a two-run shot in the inning, and Takeya Nakamura homered in the sixth and again in the eighth.

"You don't get that many grand-slam opportunities," Nakajima said. "When your teammates set you up like that, you really want to get a run in. I shortened my swing and was thinking a sacrifice fly would do."

After blowing a five-run, ninth-inning lead in a 6-5 loss on Friday, this one became a Seibu feel-good story.

"We bounced back after the worst-possible kind of loss," manager Hisanobu Watanabe said. "So I guess we aren't in such bad shape."

The skipper gave young Shogo Saito his second career start, and the 22-year-old tied the score in the third with his first career hit and RBI.

Two sterling stops by Dragons second baseman Hirokazu Ibata had held the Lions in check behind Daisuke Yamai (0-1), who was making his belated season debut. But Saito's single triggered Yamai's downfall.

With one out and a runner on second, Saito hit a grounder that ate up Dragons first baseman Takahiro Saeki and rolled into right.

"It was kind of a suspicious hit, but I thought they'd give it to me," Saito said of seeing the hit lamp light up after a brief delay.

Watanabe said he picked Saito to play left on account of his speed and the decision paid off. The youngster went 2-for-3 with a walk, two stolen bases and two runs scored.

"One of the things I can do is run," Saito said. "I know I can exploit opportunities."

After Saeki failed to field Saito's smash, Yamai pitched away from contact and walked the bases loaded.

"I saw early on they were eager to swing," Yamai said. "I thought I could lure them out of the zone, but then I couldn't throw strikes."

He allowed five runs on five hits and three walks over three innings.

Saito's one-out walk in the fourth against Ryosuke Oguma triggered Seibu's second-straight five-run inning. With two on, Nakajima belted a fastball down the pipe into the seats in left.

"That one felt sweet coming off the bat," Nakajima said.

Oguma, whose win in Friday's comeback was the first of his career, hit the next batter before Fernandez homered for the second straight game.

Nakajima singled to open the sixth and scored on the first of Nakamura's two homers.

In the seventh, Nakajima once more came up with the bags juiced, but hit into his second double play of the game.

"I tried to overpower it," he said. "The guys on the bench were telling me I could have 10 RBIs, which would be pretty cool. Instead I tightened up and got myself out."

The Dragons' Takahiro Donoue had drawn first blood with a second-inning RBI double off Takayuki Kishi. Once forced to play catchup, the Dragons pecked away with a run in the fifth on a throwing error by Nakajima.

Kishi (1-1) had treatment on his right calf in the fourth and left after five innings. He gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits and a walk.

The Dragons got solo consolation homers from Kazuhiro Wada and Tony Blanco.

In other action, Fukuoka SoftBank southpaw Toshiya Sugiuchi supplied the Hawks' third straight shutout as the hosts routed the visiting Hanshin Tigers 7-0.

Sugiuchi (2-2) struck out eight in route to his own second straight shutout.

The Tigers are in the midst of a 32-inning scoreless drought.

In Sendai, Shoji Ohiro's ninth-inning sayonara single lifted Tohoku Rakuten to a 3-2 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, the host Eagles' second straight one-run win over the CL-leading Swallows.

At Chiba Marine Field, Shuichi Murata's second two-run homer in two days pulled the Yokohama BayStars even with the Chiba Lotte Marines and the teams played to a 2-2, 12-inning tie.

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Yoshiyuki Ishihara's ninth-inning solo homer lifted the Hiroshima Carp to a 3-2 victory over the Orix Buffaloes, who became the first team in either league to lose 20 games this season.

At Sapporo Dome, Tetsuya Utsumi (5-1) allowed three runs in six innings for the win as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 4-3.

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