Former New York Mets players Benny Agbayani and Matt Franco combined for all five runs yesterday as the Lotte Marines downed the defending Japan Series champion Daiei Hawks 5-2 at Chiba Marine Stadium.
With the victory, Bobby Valentine's team improved to 5-2 and moved into sole possession of first place in the Pacific League standings.
Agbayani's bases-loaded double in the fifth innings scored three runs to give the Marines a 4-0 lead. Franco, who drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the third, connected for a solo homer in the seventh.
Valentine guided Lotte to a second-place finish in 1995 -- the team's best finish in 19 years -- and is back for his second stint with the Marines.
He managed the Mets from 1996 to 2002, leading them to the 2000 World Series. He also managed the Texas Rangers from 1985 to 1992.
It was the Marines' second straight victory over Sadaharu Oh's Hawks, who dropped to 4-3.
Lotte starter Nate Minchey, formerly of the Boston Red Sox, picked up the win after holding the Hawks to two runs on four hits over eight innings. Masahide Kobayashi retired the side in the ninth for the save.
Daiei starter Kazumi Saito, who went 20-3 last season for the Hawks, took the loss after giving up five runs on seven hits over seven innings.
At Sapporo Dome, Jose Fernandez went 3-for-4 with four RBIs to lead the Seibu Lions to an 11-9 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Fernandez had a single in the first inning, drove in a run on a single in the second and connected for a solo homer in the fourth as the Lions handed the Fighters their first loss in Sapporo Dome, their new home.
At Yahoo BB Stadium, Keiichi Hirano connected for a solo homer to highlight a seven-run eighth inning as the Orix BlueWave rallied for a 14-10 win over the Kintetsu Buffaloes.
Koichi Isobe hit a three-run homer in the third as the Buffaloes jumped out to a 7-3 lead before the BlueWave rallied late in the game.
In the Central League, Alex Ramirez hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Yakult Swallows to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Yokohama BayStars.
Ramirez, who had 40 homers last season for the Swallows, connected off Yokohama reliever Eddie Gaillard to erase a 3-1 deficit.
Yakult's Ken Suzuki had a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth after Tatsuhiko Kinjo had given the BayStars a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth.
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