Pinch-hitter Taketoshi Goto doubled in a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday afternoon as the Seibu Lions rallied to defeat the Softbank Hawks 6-5 to wrap up a place in the Pacific League playoffs.
Goto’s double to left capped a three-run rally at Invoice Seibu Dome and prevented the Hawks from clinching first place in the standings.
Softbank took a 5-3 lead in the top of the eighth when pinch-hitter Noriyoshi Omichi drove in a pair of runs on a single up the middle.
The defending Japan Series champion Lions will finish the season in third place and likely face the Chiba Lotte Marines in the first round of the playoffs, which start on Oct. 8. If the Hawks lose their remaining three games and the Marines win their final three games, Softbank would still finish in first place but the two teams would automatically advance to a best-of-five second-stage playoff. The first stage of the playoffs with Seibu would be scrapped.
Eagles 8, Marines 1
At Sendai’s Fullcast Stadium, rookie right-hander Yasuhiro Ichiba gave up four hits over the distance as Tohoku Rakuten downed Chiba Lotte.
Ichiba struck out four and gave up one run. Rakuten infielder Yosoku Takasu went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs to lead the Rakuten attack.
Marines rookie Yasutomo Kubo took the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings.
Chiba Lotte remains three games back of the Hawks.
Fighters 3, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka Dome, Yu Darvish gave up one run on eight hits over seven innings as Hokkadio Nippon Ham downed Orix.
Kuniyuki Kimoto hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to lead the Fighters’ attack.
Tigers 6, Carp 3
At Hiroshima, Akihiro Yano and Atsushi Fujimoto hit back-to-back solo homers in the fifth inning to lead Hanshin to a win over the Carp and a step closer to clinching the CL pennant.
Tigers rookie Atsushi Nomi held Hiroshima to three runs on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings for the victory and Tomoyuki Kubota pitched a scoreless ninth for his 25th save as Hanshin won its third straight and reduced its magic number to claim the Central League title to four.
After Saturday’s games, the Tigers have a comfortable 7 1/2-game lead over the second place Chunichi Dragons in the league standings.
Dragons 11, Giants 5
At Nagoya Dome, Hirokazu Ibata went 3-for-5 with three RBIs to power Chunichi to a win over Yomiuri.
Tyrone Woods and Masahiro Araki chipped in with a pair of RBIs each for the Dragons, who are running out of games in which to make up ground on the Tigers.
BayStars at Swallows — ppd.