/

Fighters earn fourth straight playoff berth

Kyodo

Terrmel Sledge and Yoshio Itoi each homered twice as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters routed the Orix Buffaloes 12-3 on Tuesday to clinch a playoff berth in the Pacific League Climax Series for the fourth straight year.

Kenji Takahashi hit a two-run homer to open the scoring in the first inning followed by Sledge’s blast for a 3-0 lead against rookie left-hander Masaki Iihara (0-3) at Sapporo Dome.

Itoi led off a five-run fourth with a drive to left and Sledge and Itoi added two-run drives with two outs in the sixth, making it 8-1.

Brian Sweeney (5-8) allowed three runs over seven innings.

Marines 13, Lions 3

At Seibu Dome, Ryusuke Minami and Koichi Hori drove in four runs apiece as Chiba Lotte clobbered Saitama Seibu, sending the Lions to their third straight defeat to extinguish any possibility of the 2008 PL champion winning consecutive titles.

Minami had a two-run double to cap a four-run first inning and hit a two-run homer to key a four-run fifth. Toshiaki Imae had an eighth-inning two-run single and drove in three runs.

Shingo Ono (8-7) threw his third complete game of the season, striking out five and walking one. Kazuhisa Ishii (9-9) was roughed up for seven runs in four innings.

Hawks 7, Eagles 6 (10)

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 4, Giants 1

At Nagoya Dome, Kenta Asakura allowed one unearned run in six innings, Tony Blanco and Kei Nomoto homered and Chunichi downed Yomiuri to pick up its 80th win of the season.

Blanco hit a solo blast leading off the second, his CL-leading 38th home run, and Asakura helped his own cause with a two-run double. Nomoto tacked on a leadoff shot in the third.

Asakura (10-8) gave up six hits and walked none. Seth Greisinger (13-6) took the loss.

Carp 2, BayStars 1

At Mazda Stadium, Kenta Kurihara hit a walk-off single with two outs in ninth, lifting Hiroshima over Yokohama.

After driving in the opening run on a single in the first, Kurihara returned to break a 1-1 tie with single to center off reliever Shun Yamaguchi. Kazuya Takamiya (0-1) was charged with the loss for the BayStars, who dropped their sixth in a row.

Mike Schultz (4-3) got the final four outs.

Tigers 8, Swallows 2

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tomoaki Kanemoto and Takahiro Arai drove in five runs between them as fourth-place Hanshin moved within a half game of Yakult in its bid to reach the Climax Series playoffs.

After a Norichika Aoki two-run homer tied the game 2-2 in the third inning, Takashi Toritani and Kanemoto delivered back-to-back two-run doubles to make it 6-2 with two outs in the fourth against Yoshinori Sato (5-10).

Yasutomo Kubo (9-8) gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking four. Arai opened the scoring with a run-scoring double and had a solo blast in the seventh.