Baseball: Marines tighten PL race with win over leading Hawks

©Kyodo News

Shuhei Fukuda broke up a 1-1 tie in the second inning with a two-run single to help the Lotte Marines beat his old team, the SoftBank Hawks, 7-4 on Friday.

The win at Chiba's Zozo Marine Stadium lifted the second-place Marines to within one game of the Pacific League leaders.

Right-hander Kota Futaki (5-2) held the Hawks to a run through the first six innings, while the Marines hammered Matt Moore (3-2) for five runs in the second.

The combination of some mistake pitches and a dropped ground ball by Hawks second baseman Ukyo Shuto opened the door for the Marines' big inning.

Back-to-back singles put two on with no outs. The tying run was scored after Shuto fumbled a potential groundout to second. After a sacrifice and a strikeout, Moore hung a changeup to Fukuda, who signed with the Marines over the winter after leaving SoftBank as a free agent.

"I reacted well to the pitch he threw," Fukuda said. "I've been hurt a lot and have been unable to help the team much. Going forward, I want to give my all."

His single made it 3-1. Leonys Martin got a lucky hit off a good inside fastball from Moore to put runners on the corners. A Hisanori Yasuda RBI single and a Shogo Nakamura double made it 5-1.

Moore, however, recovered and shut the Marines down for the next five innings as his teammates made it close in a three-run seventh.

The lefty allowed six runs, four earned on 10 hits over 7-1/3 innings. He struck out six without issuing a walk.

Futaki allowed four runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out one over 6-1/3 innings. Hirokazu Sawamura worked a scoreless eighth against the heart of the Hawks' fearsome order, and closer Naoya Masuda closed it out in the ninth for his 24th save.

Former Marine Alfredo Despaigne opened the scoring in the second with his second homer in three games, while the Marines tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth.

At Metlife Dome, Corey Spangenberg singled in the go-ahead run off Kazuhisa Makita (1-1), a former Lion and Spangenberg's former San Diego Padres teammate, to break a 4-4 seventh-inning tie in the Seibu Lions' 5-4 win over the Rakuten Eagles.

At Osaka's Kyocera Dome, Steven Moya hit a fourth-inning grand slam, his third home run in his past five games in the Orix Buffaloes' 9-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

In the Central League, Naomichi Nishiura singled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning as the Yakult Swallows won 6-3 over the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo's Jingu Stadium. Hanshin replaced nine members on its active roster after five players in the organization tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

At Tokyo Dome, Kazuma Okamoto's league-leading 23rd home run, a three-run, second-inning shot, broke open a close game as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Chunichi Dragons 8-4.

At Hiroshima's Mazda Stadium, Hiroki Tokoda (2-6) struck out nine as he allowed a run over seven innings in the Hiroshima Carp's 5-3 win over the DeNA BayStars.