HIROSHIMA – Right-hander Kan Otake went the distance and Yoshiyuki Ishihara belted a sayonara home run to lift the streaking Hiroshima Carp to a 2-1 victory over the Hanshin Tigers on Tuesday evening.
The Central League’s third-place Carp, who are aiming for their first postseason appearance since they lost the 1991 Japan Series, won seven straight for the first time in four years. They moved 5½ games ahead of the fourth-place Chunichi Dragons in the battle for the CL’s third and final playoff spot, while pulling to within five games of the second-place Tigers.
“Otake gave us his all, so somehow I wanted to get him the win,” said Ishihara, who drove in both Carp runs before a Mazda Stadium crowd of 21,787. “It’s a good thing it reached the seats.”
Otake (9-9) allowed a run on four hits and a walk, while striking out six, two coming with two outs and a runner on third base.
“I wasn’t thinking too much, just trying to throw the ball where Ishihara put his mitt,” Otake said. “I’m happy I could go all nine innings.”
Ishihara plated the game’s first run with a two-out, bases-loaded bouncer to second in the fourth off Tigers right-hander Randy Messenger. Although the Tigers had no play on the infield single, Ishihara slid in head first.
Messenger allowed a run in seven innings. He allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked three. Yasutomo Kubo pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, but his first pitch of the ninth, a fastball to Ishihara, reached the seats for the Carp catcher’s seventh home run.
Giants 4, Dragons 2
At Nagoya Dome, Yomiuri snapped a three-game losing streak behind 7⅔ strong innings from ace Tetsuya Utsumi (13-5) in a win over Chunichi.
Hayato Sakamoto put the Giants in front with a two-run, second-inning double, and Shinnosuke Abe hit his 32nd home run, a two-run shot in the fifth.
Swallows 8, BayStars 6
At Yokohama Stadium, Tokyo Yakult’s Wladimir Balentien failed to add to his season-record home run total, going 0-for-3 with two walks, but his team beat Yokohama to win its third straight.
Six BayStars pitchers combined to issue 12 walks.
Eagles 7, Hawks 5
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten overturned a 3-0 deficit in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Kazuya Fujita and Casey McGehee’s first grand slam in Japan to beat Fukuoka Softbank and cut its magic number to clinch the franchise’s first PL pennant to nine.
Rookie right-hander Takahiro Norimoto (14-7) earned the win despite allowing five runs in eight innings. Wily Mo Pena, who won the PL’s Best IX Award for designated hitters in his 2012 debut season, hit his first homer of 2013 for the Hawks.
Buffaloes 10, Marines 4
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, every member of the Orix starting lineup had at least one of the last-place Buffaloes’ 17 hits.
Chihiro Kaneko (12-8) allowed a run in seven innings in a win over second-place Chiba Lotte, which fell eight games back of the Eagles.
Lions 5, Fighters 1
At Seibu Dome, Takayuki Kishi (10-5) allowed a solo home run and three walks over seven innings to reach double-digit wins for the second straight season as Seibu knocked off Hokkaido Nippon Ham behind two runs driven in by PL RBI leader Hideto Asamura.