/

Sugiuchi outduels Darvish; Hawks close in on PL title

Kyodo

Toshiya Sugiuchi won a pitching duel with Yu Darvish on Saturday night, tossing a complete-game shutout in the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks’ 1-0 victory over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

The front-running Hawks reduced their magic number to one for clinching the Pacific League title while keeping a half-game lead over the Seibu Lions.

Sugiuchi (16-7) scattered five hits, walked one and struck out nine in a 117-pitch outing at Sapporo Dome. The left-hander escaped a one-out, two-on jam in the ninth by getting Yoshio Itoi to ground into a game-ending double play.

Munenori Kawasaki broke a scoreless tie with a two-out RBI single in the seventh.

Darvish (12-8) also allowed just five hits, striking out 12 over nine innings.

The Fighters dropped to fourth place in their quest for the third and final spot in the Climax Series. The Marines moved up to third.

Marines 6, Buffaloes 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Tsuyoshi Nishioka joined the 200-hit club and Chiba Lotte ended Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko’s winning streak at 13 starts.

Nishioka went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, making him the second player in 2010 and the fifth in Japanese baseball history to have a 200-hit season. The Hanshin Tigers’ Matt Murton had his 200th hit on Thursday.

“I can’t afford to be happy about my personal record when the team is fighting for a spot in the Climax Series,” Nishioka said. “I’ll just keep concentrating until the season is over.”

Yoshihisa Naruse (12-11) allowed one run and two hits in six innings.

Kaneko (17-8) gave up six runs — four earned — in 5 1/3 innings. Naoki Matoba drove in three runs for Lotte.

Lions 3, Eagles 2

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Takeya Nakamura hit a pair of solo homers as Seibu edged Tohoku Rakuten to halt a five-game slide.

Nakamura homered leading off the sixth inning for a 2-1 lead and added another in the eighth to make it 3-1.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 9, BayStars 7

At Yokohama Stadium, Tony Blanco homered twice and Kazuhiro Wada added a two-run blast, his 37th home run of the season, as Chunichi outslugged Yokohama.

Blanco finished 3-for-4 with two solo shots. Masahiro Araki had four of the Dragons’ 16 hits.

Maximo Nelson (4-3) worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Hitoki Iwase picked up his baseball-leading 42nd save.

BayStars starter Atori Ota (0-7) lasted only 2 1/3 innings.

Tigers 8, Carp 3

At Koshien Stadium, Takahiro Arai hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Randy Messenger pitched 5 1/3 effective innings, leading Hanshin over Hiroshima.

Giants 3, Swallows 2

At Jingu Stadium, Alex Ramirez hit a tiebreaking solo shot in the seventh inning as Yomiuri edged Tokyo Yakult.

Ramirez’s 44th home run, off Lee Hye Chun (0-1), left him one behind leader Craig Brazell of Hanshin.

Tetsuya Yamaguchi (8-3) threw a scoreless seventh. Marc Kroon earned his 23rd save.