NAGOYA – Masahiro Araki delivered a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning as the Chunichi Dragons edged the Yakult Swallows 3-2 to even the first stage of the Central League Climax Series at one game apiece on Sunday.
Game 3 on Monday will decide which team will face the CL champion Yomiuri Giants in the second stage. Second-place Chunichi can clinch the series even with a tie against third-place Yakult.
In a nail-biter where runs came at a premium, Motonobu Tanishige led off the seventh with a single to center, moved to second on Kazuki Yoshimi’s sacrifice bunt and reached third on a groundout to shortstop by Hirokazu Ibata.
Araki then singled to center off 16-game winner Shohei Tateyama (0-1) to score Tanishige at Nagoya Dome. His hit could not have been more timely as Araki had gone hitless in seven plate appearances this series.
Chunichi took a 1-0 lead in the first when Yakult failed to turn a potential inning-ending double play on Kazuhiro Wada’s bases-loaded grounder.
Ryohei Kawamoto then gave Yakult the lead with a two-run homer in the second before Tanishige’s solo blast tied it 2-2 in the bottom half of the frame.