NAGOYA – The second-place Hanshin Tigers rallied for four unanswered runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat the Chunichi Dragons 4-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Dragons starter Daniel Cabrera threw seven shutout innings of four-hit ball, and Warner Madrigal and Takuya Asao got three outs before Dragons veteran closer Hitoki Iwase (1-3) fell apart in the ninth.
The Tigers won their third straight and moved 16 games above .500 for the first time in three years.
Chunichi outfielder Kazuhiro Wada gave his team the lead with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly at Nagoya Dome.
But the tying run scored on third baseman Shuhei Takahashi’s fielding error on pinch hitter Ryo Asai’s grounder in the ninth, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka delivered an RBI single to center for the go-ahead score. Matt Murton drilled a two-run bases-loaded double to cap the scoring.
“My teammates did a great job getting on base. I didn’t make good contact but I think the cheers from the fans gave the ball some lift,” said Nishioka. “It’s good to get this result and win. We’re at a point in the season when we can’t afford to lose.”
Rookie Shintaro Fujinami yielded one run in six innings. He struck out five but walked four batters. Blaine Boyer (2-0) took over in relief and pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Shinobu Fukuhara worked the ninth for his 10th save.
Giants 8, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Yomiuri captain Shinnosuke Abe opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first inning and Hayato Sakamoto went deep with a three-run drive in the fourth as the Giants trounced Yokohama.
Left-hander Toshiya Sugiuchi (10-4) allowed two runs on three hits in six innings to earn the win. BayStars starter Shugo Fujii (6-5) took the loss against his former team.
Tony Blanco hit a two-run drive for Yokohama.
Carp 9, Swallows 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kila Ka’aihue and Takahiro Iwamoto both hit two-run homers in a 15-hit onslaught to lead the hosts in a mauling of rookie Yasuhiro Ogawa (12-4) and Tokyo Yakult.
The Carp won their fourth consecutive series for the first time in five seasons.
Bryan Bullington (7-9) limited the damage to two runs in five innings of work. Ka’aihue went 3-for-4, featuring his tiebreaking drive in the home half of the first. Eishin Soyogi had four hits, including an RBI single in the fourth.
Eagles 7, Marines 5
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Shintaro Masuda broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run double in the fifth inning and PL leader Tohoku Rakuten came from four runs down to beat second-place Chiba Lotte.
Former major leaguer Takashi Saito picked up his first save in Japan in 11 years.
G.G. Sato hit his first career grand slam in the first for the Marines, but the Eagles battled back to tie it, due in part to RBI singles from Andruw Jones and Ginji Akaminai. Wataru Karashima (1-1) picked up his first win after yielding four runs in five innings.
Hawks 7, Lions 3
At Seibu Dome, Tadashi Settsu pitched seven innings of three-run ball, Seiichi Uchikawa went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Fukuoka Softbank rallied from behind in a rout of Seibu.
Settsu (13-5) scattered six hits, struck out six and walked none. Yuki Yanagita had a tiebreaking leadoff blast off Kazuhisa Makita (5-9) in the sixth and Akira Nakamura tacked on a two-run single. Yuya Hasegawa added a solo shot in the seventh for his 14th homer. The Hawks’ Nobuhiro Matsuda struck out four times.
Fighters 3, Buffaloes 3 (12)
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takuya Nakashima drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game with one out in the sixth inning, and neither Hokkaido Nippon Ham nor Orix could drive in the decisive run in a contest that lasted 5 hours, 1 minute.
Bobby Keppel allowed three runs — including a two-run drive by Vinny Rottino in the second — and seven hits in five innings in a duel with the Buffaloes’ Brandon Dickson, who yielded three runs and eight hits in five-plus innings.