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Idle Dragons clinch CL title

Kyodo

The Chunichi Dragons clinched their first Central League title in four years when the Hanshin Tigers fell to the Hiroshima Carp 5-0 on Friday night.

Hiroshima left-hander Dioni Soriano (1-3) picked up his first career win in Japan with a four-hit shutout at Mazda Stadium. He struck out six and walked two in a 126-pitch outing.

Eishin Soyogi hit a solo homer in the first inning and singled in two runs in a four-run fourth, both off rookie right-hander Takumi Akiyama (4-2).

The Dragons’ title victory came a day before they host the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in their final regular-season game.

Hanshin can tie Chunichi in winning percentage by winning all of its remaining five games, coupled with Chunichi’s loss on Saturday.

But the one with a better head-to-head record wins under tiebreaking rules. The Dragons have a 13-9 record with two ties against the Tigers.

Chunichi trailed by as many as eight games at one point during the season but moved into first place on Sept. 10 and won a tight three-team race with Hanshin and Yomiuri.

The Dragons have won 53 of their 71 home games this season.

“We came up short the last three seasons, so I’m just relieved that we won,” Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai said. “We’ve practiced very, very hard, especially the last seven years. Things went pretty well for us this season.”

The Tigers dropped to third in the CL standings, with the Giants taking over second place.