CHIBA – Yuki Karakawa limited the damage to two runs in eight effective innings, Tadahito Iguchi had a two-run single and the last-place Chiba Lotte Marines beat the Pacific League champion Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 5-2 in their final game of the season Saturday.
Karakawa (12-6) scattered eight hits while walking none and Yasuhiko Yabuta retired three in the ninth for his 31st save for Lotte, the 2010 Japan Series champion.
“Next year I want to improve even more on my results,” said Karakawa, who doubled his number of wins from last season.
“But when I was in bad form I wasn’t able to make adjustments. I was out of sync physically and mentally,” he added.
Reliever Soichi Fujita (0-1) took the loss.
Katsuya Kakunaka had a sacrifice fly to open the scoring in the second before a Hiroki Kokubo RBI single tied it 1-1 in the fourth at QVC Marine Field.
Iguchi gave his team a 3-1 lead with his base hit up the middle following a double steal in a four-run fifth. The Hawks’ Seiichi Uchikawa finished the season with a PL-leading .338 batting average.
“With the double steal we had runners at second and third, so I was able to relax at the plate,” Iguchi said.
Giants 5, BayStars 2
At Tokyo Dome, pinch hitter Hisayoshi Chono hit a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning off closer Shun Yamaguchi (2-6) as third-place Yomiuri beat cellar-dweller Yokohama in the teams’ final game of the regular season.
Tetsuya Utsumi (18-5), who normally pitches out of the starting rotation, threw five scoreless innings in relief to match the league lead with his 18th win.
Shuichi Murata hit a pair of solo homers to give the BayStars a 2-0 lead before Shinnosuke Abe pulled one back with a shot of his own in the eighth.
Tigers 7, Carp 1
At Mazda Stadium, Takahiro Arai had a pair of RBI singles in support of Atsushi Nomi (12-9), who pitched one-run ball over the distance in Hanshin’s rout of Hiroshima.
Arai, who leads the CL with 93 RBIs, singled in the third and fifth innings off Yuya Fukui (8-10).
Matt Murton, who is chasing the CL batting title in close contention with Yomiuri’s Chono (.316), went 1-for-4 and has a .312 average with two games remaining.