SENDAI – The Seibu Lions put themselves back in a game that appeared to be a lost cause.
The Lions did not get the desired win, but at least avoided a loss after scoring three runs in the top of the ninth inning Thursday night en route to tying the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 5-5.
Down 5-2, pinch hitter Chris Carter hit a one-out double off Rakuten closer Koji Aoyama, and Esteban German, Takeya Nakamura and Jose Ortiz each singled to drive in three runs to tie it at Kleenex Stadium.
The fourth-place Eagles’ tie assured the idle Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of at least a third-place finish this season to lock up a spot in the upcoming Climax Series first stage against the Lions. It also meant that Rakuten will finish in fourth or worse.
Now the only thing to be determined is who will have home-field advantage as the second-place team in the Climax Series, with Seibu leading Softbank by three games with two games remaining.
The third-place Hawks, who will make their fourth consecutive appearance in the Climax Series and eighth overall, including the playoffs in 2004-06, have three games left.
Rakuten jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, featuring a two-run single by Hiroaki Shimauchi, and Ryo Hijirisawa hit a solo homer in the fourth for a 5-1 lead. The Lions pulled one back in the fifth on Eagles starter Brandon Duckworth’s balk.
Lions catcher Ginjiro Sumitani had to be carried out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital by ambulance after he was sent flying by Jose Fernandez, who took off for home from second on Shimauchi’s single down the left-field line.
Swallows 4, Carp 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kyohei Muranaka (10-7) pitched seven shutout innings to notch double-digit wins for the first time in two seasons, and Shingo Kawabata had a two-run double in Tokyo Yakult’s win over Hiroshima.
Yuhei Nakamura drove in the opening run on an infield single off Kan Otake (11-5) in the second and Hiroyasu Tanaka added an RBI single followed by Kawabata’s double in the three-run sixth. Tony Barnette got his 32nd save.