NAGOYA – Right-hander Shohei Tateyama worked six innings on Sunday, and Central League home run champ Wladimir Balentien drove in the game’s only run as the Yakult Swallows evened the first stage of the CL Climax Series with a 1-0 defeat of the Chunichi Dragons.
The Dragons, who finished second in the CL this season, only need to tie Monday’s Game 3 to advance to the final stage against the league champion Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome starting on Wednesday. The third-place Swallows can only advance with a win.
Tateyama allowed four hits and four walks, with three of the free passes coming in the bottom of the fourth, moments after Balentien hit his second homer of the series, off Dragons right-hander Soma Yamauchi.
With one out, Tateyama issued back-to-back walks to cleanup hitter Tony Blanco and Game 1 hero Kazuhiro Wada. After a groundout advanced the runners, Tateyama walked No. 7 hitter Takehiro Donoue to face Motonobu Tanishige.
The 41-year-old catcher struck out in a 10-pitch at-bat to leave the bases loaded.
“Because he’s a veteran, it was a case of our both being able to read each other’s intention,” Tateyama said of Tanishige. “All I could do was keep attacking him. Eventually, I got one past him.”
Tateyama got his final out of the afternoon when Tanishige flied out in a seven-pitch at-bat with two men on.
Swallows closer Tony Barnette entered in the eighth and retired all six batters he faced to earn the save.
Dragons leadoff man Yohei Oshima, who went 3-for-5 in Chunichi’s 6-1 win on Saturday, went 4-for-4 on Sunday, collecting all but one of the hosts’ hits.