Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda allowed a hit in six scoreless innings in a 7-4 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Saturday, denying the defending Japan Series champs a chance to clinch the Central League pennant for at least another day.
Maeda (15-5) struck out eight, walked two and did not allow a hit through five innings. The victory moved him out of a tie for the league lead in wins with Tokyo Yakult Swallows rookie Yasuhiro Ogawa.
Kila Ka’aihue put the Carp on the board with a fourth-inning RBI single, Hiroshima’s first hit off lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi. After a lucky single kept the inning alive, Jun Hirose blasted a three-run homer for the visitors.
With two outs, Eishin Soyogi hit a broken-bat grounder up the middle that shortstop Hayato Sakamoto was poised to catch, only for it to take a bad hop and shoot past him into center for a single. Hirose, who lined a fat 2-0 slider into the seats just foul, drove a 3-2 slider deep into the stands in left center.
Ryosuke Kikuchi, who had already stamped his mark on the game with a string of sharp plays at second base, opened the sixth by leaving a mark on a 2-0 fastball. With two outs in the inning, Soyogi connected to left to make it a 6-0 game.
With Hirose at first after a two-out walk, Tetsuya Kokubo doubled to the gap in right. Giants center fielder Tetsuya Matsumoto fumbled the ball, allowing Hirose to score the Carp’s third run of the inning.
Sugiuchi, who was perfect through the first three innings, allowed seven runs, six earned, on six hits and two walks over six innings, after which he was pulled for a pinch hitter.
With Maeda out of the game after six innings, the Giants created their first scoring opportunity against Takeru Imamura, but were stymied by a fine two-out catch from left fielder Masato Akamatsu, who had entered the game in the bottom of the sixth.
The Giants, however, got back in the game with four runs against right-hander Ryuji Yokoyama in the eighth. John Bowker, who entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh, made things interesting with his 13th home run of the season, a two-out, three-run jack.
Swallows 7, Tigers 7 (12)
At Hyogo’s Koshien Stadium, Hanshin overcame a five-run deficit to salvage a tie after 12 innings with Yakult and avoid handing the CL pennant to the Yomiuri Giants.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s two-out RBI double in the eighth tied it and both teams failed to score the rest of the way. A loss by the second-place Tigers would have clinched the pennant for the Giants, whose game started four hours later.
Dragons 5, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Daniel Cabrera (6-5) showed great movement on his breaking pitches as he allowed just an unearned run over seven innings in Chunichi’s win over Yokohama.
At Sapporo Dome, Tohoku Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka won his 22nd consecutive decision of the season as the Pacific League-leading Eagles came from behind to defeat Hokkaido Nippon Ham, which was plagued by defensive mistakes.
The Eagles, who played their first season in 2005, now have a magic number of six to clinch the franchise’s first PL pennant. Tanaka (22-0), who allowed a run in eight innings, has now won 26 consecutive decisions dating back to Aug. 26, 2012.
Marines 14, Hawks 5
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Saburo Omura cracked a three-run double to open the scoring and Lotte scored seven, first-inning runs off Softbank ace Tadashi Settsu (15-7).
Buffaloes 9, Lions 6