Lotte Marines in first place in Pacific League

Updated: April 3, 2004, 11:09 AM ET
Associated Press

TOKYO -- Former New York Mets Benny Agbayani and Matt Franco combined for five RBI on Saturday, helping manager Bobby Valentine and the Lotte Marines down the defending Japan Series champion Daiei Hawks 5-2.

Valentine's team improved to 5-2 and moved into sole possession of first place in the Pacific League.

"This is a new year and a new team," said Valentine, who served as an ESPN analyst last season. "We're playing well and I don't think we'll have to wait long for our next win."

Agbayani's bases-loaded double in the fifth inning scored three runs to put Marines ahead 4-0. Franco had a sacrifice fly in the third and a solo homer in the seventh.

Valentine guided Lotte to second place in 1995 -- the team's best finish in 19 years -- and is back for a second stint with the Marines. He managed the Mets from 1996-02, leading them to the 2000 World Series. He managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-92.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press