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Abe, Ramirez carry Giants past Swallows

Kyodo News

Shinnosuke Abe hit a grand slam and Alex Ramirez added a solo homer Saturday as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6-3 for their third straight victory.

Abe’s second home run in as many nights and 11th of the month gave Yomiuri a 4-0 lead in the first inning off Shohei Tateyama (14-6) at Jingu Stadium.

Jamie D’Antona’s two-run homer in the third and Aaron Guiel’s RBI single in the fifth pulled the Swallows within a run.

But the Giants answered in the sixth with an RBI single from Hayato Sakamoto. Ramirez went deep to center field leading off the seventh.

Yomiuri reduced its magic number to six to win the Central League title. Yakult lost for the 11th time in 13 games.

“In my first at-bat, I just hoped to drive in the opening run. I wasn’t sure my fly ball would go out against the wind,” Abe said of his opposite-field shot to left-center.

He added: “We take one game at a time. We try to reduce the magic number by ourselves (without counting on losses by Chunichi), and hopefully we can clinch the title sometime soon.”

Daisuke Ochi (8-2) worked two scoreless innings for the win. Marc Kroon picked up his 25th save.

Dragons 5, BayStars 2

At Nagoya Dome, Takashi Ogasawara pitched one-run ball and struck out eight over eight innings as Chunichi built an early lead to down Yokohama.

Ogasawara (7-2) scattered six hits and walked two. Hitoki Iwase picked up his CL-leading 41st save. Futoshi Kobayashi (1-8) was chased after four innings.

Masahiko Morino opened the scoring with a one-out RBI single in the first and the Dragons went up 4-0 through the fourth, featuring a Ryosuke Hirata solo home run.

Carp 4, Tigers 3

At Koshien Stadium, Soichiro Amaya delivered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning as Hiroshima edged Hanshin.

Yoshiyuki Ishihara hit a solo homer that tied the game 3-3 in the sixth, setting the stage for Amaya’s fly ball to center one inning later off Hirotaka Egusa (4-4).

Kenta Maeda (8-13) yielded three runs in seven innings, striking out seven and walking two. Katsuhiro Nagakawa worked the ninth for his 33rd save.

Tomoaki Kanemoto, Ryo Asai and Takashi Toritani homered for the Tigers, who dropped their third in a row.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 4, Buffaloes 1

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hichori Morimoto had a tiebreaking bases-clearing triple in the ninth inning and Hokkaido Nippon Ham came from behind to defeat Orix.

Terrmel Sledge knotted the score 1-1 with a run-scoring double in the sixth before Morimoto tripled to left-center with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth for the lead.

Keisaku Itokazu (3-5) pitched a five-hitter in his second career complete game and retired the last 10 batters he faced. Yoshihisa Hirano (3-11) took the loss.

The Fighters reduced their magic number to clinch the Pacific League title to 11.

Eagles 10, Marines 4

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Daisuke Kusano broke a 2-2 tie with a bases-loaded two-run single and Tohoku Rakuten sent 12 batters to the plate to erupt for eight runs in the sixth inning in a win over Chiba Lotte.

The Eagles saw their magic number for a berth in the Climax Series reappear after winning three of their last four games.

Kenta Satake (1-1) went 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. Yuki Karakawa (5-7) gave up five runs in five-plus innings for the Marines, who lost their seventh in a row against Rakuten.