NAGOYA – Dicky Gonzalez tossed 5⅓ innings of two-run ball, and Shinnosuke Abe hit a go-ahead three-run homer as the Yomiuri Giants rallied past the Chunichi Dragons in a 3-2 victory to lower their magic number to clinch the Central League title to one on Wednesday night.
The Giants, who are 11 games in front of the second-place Dragons, can clinch their first league pennant in three years, if they beat or tie the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Friday. Even if Yomiuri loses, it will clinch if Chunichi falls against the Hanshin Tigers.
Abe launched his 25th home run of the season, a drive to right off lefty Yudai Ono (4-3), after singles by Hisayoshi Chono and Hayato Sakamoto put runners at the corners with one out in the fourth inning at Nagoya Dome.
Gonzalez (4-1) scattered five hits, walked five and struck out two. Kentaro Nishimura finished off the ninth for his 29th save.
Swallows 3, Carp 1
Tigers 1, BayStars 0
Fighters 4, Buffaloes 2
At Sapporo Dome, Atsunori Inaba had a game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the first inning, and Yoshio Itoi’s run-scoring single in the third gave PL leader Hokkaido Nippon Ham the lead on the way to a three-game sweep of last-place Orix.
Fighters starter Keisuke Tanimoto (2-2) limited the damage to two runs in five innings of work. Hisashi Takeda picked up his PL-leading 28th save with a perfect ninth. Orix lost eight in a row for the first time in eight years. Nippon Ham retained a 2½-game edge on the second-place Seibu Lions.
Lions 2, Hawks 0
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Esteban German had a run-scoring triple and Masato Kumashiro added an insurance run with a single into left off Nagisa Arakaki (6-4) as second-place Seibu held off third-place Softbank to snap a four-game losing skid.
Underarm hurler Kazuhita Makita (12-7) threw 7⅓ scoreless innings on seven hits while striking out six. Hideaki Wakui got the final five outs, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to earn his 24th save. Softbank saw its winnings streak end at three games and are two games back of Seibu in the PL title race.
Eagles 13, Marines 2
At Tokyo Dome, Akihisa Makida hit his career first grand slam and added a three-run drive for seven RBIs on the night as Tohoku Rakuten mauled Chiba Lotte in a 16-hit onslaught.
Brandon Duckworth (2-1) yielded two runs and three hits in seven innings. Shingo Ono (2-4) was tagged for seven runs in the first innings alone and got the hook after one-third of an inning. Shoitsu Omatsu hit a two-run homer in the seventh for Lotte.