Shohei Tateyama pitched his second shutout of the season as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows beat the Hanshin Tigers 5-0 in the opener of a crucial two-game series Thursday.
Yakult overtook Hanshin for third place in the Central League. If the Swallows beat Hanshin again on Friday, they will clinch the third and final playoff spot.
Tateyama (16-6) scattered five hits, struck out four and hit a batter at Jingu Stadium en route to matching Chunichi Dragons right-hander Kazuki Yoshimi for the CL lead in wins.
“It was a game we could not lose,” Tateyama said. “I didn’t want any regrets, so I gave my all on the mound.”
The Swallows took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on a run-scoring throwing error by third baseman Takahiro Arai and Yuichi Matsumoto’s RBI double off Yuya Ando (8-12).
Ryohei Kawamoto added a two-out homer to left in the sixth.
“My home run extended the team’s lead, but my main job is to help pitchers perform well, so I only had that in mind,” said the backup catcher.
Buffaloes 11, Fighters 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hirotoshi Kitagawa drove in four runs and Mamoru Kishida (10-4) allowed one unearned run in seven innings, leading Orix over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Kitagawa doubled in two runs in the fourth inning, drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth and hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Mitsuo Yoshikawa (0-2) took the loss.