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Carp lock up third-place spot for playoffs

Kyodo

The Hiroshima Carp will have the Central League’s toughest road to the Japan Series after Thursday’s 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Chunichi Dragons ensured the Carp will play all of their Climax Series games on the road.

Hiroshima right-hander Yuya Fukui (0-2) allowed four runs, three earned, in 2 1/3 innings to earn the loss, leaving the Carp to start their postseason at Koshien Stadium in the Climax Series’ best-of-three first stage.

Hiroshima, in the postseason for the first time since it lost the 1991 Japan Series, was held to four hits by five Chunichi pitchers.

Yudai Kawai (1-0) allowed a run in three innings of relief to earn the win for the Dragons.

The contest served as a farewell game for Carp outfielder Tomonori Maeda, a member of that 1991 club. Before 32,217 — the Carp’s biggest crowd of the season — the 42-year-old fan favorite, grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning and played right field in the ninth, his first defensive appearance in five years.

Tigers 7, BayStars 3

At Yokohama Stadium, The BayStars’ Tony Blanco went 3-for-3 to take over the league lead in batting average from Tokyo Yakult’s Wladimir Balentien in a victory over Hanshin.

Blanco walked and hit his 41st home run. His two RBIs pushed his season total to 136, eight more than Balentien’s.

Despite their loss, Yokohama ensured a fifth-place finish, its best since it was fourth in 2007.

Giants 4, Swallows 2

At Tokyo Dome, Shuichi Murata broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run, fifth-inning home run, his first since Sept. 14, as Yomiuri beat last-place Tokyo Yakult.

D.J. Houlton (9-4) allowed two runs in five innings to earn the win.

The Swallows’ loss guaranteed a last-place finish, Yakult’s first since 2007.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Marines 7, Eagles 6

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Ikuhiro Kiyota hit a three-run homer in the second inning, and Chiba Lotte overcame a one-run deficit in the eighth to defeat new league champ Tohoku Rakuten.

The win moved the second-place Marines two games in front of third-place Seibu and one win away from clinching a spot in the PL playoffs.

Lions 5, Hawks 4

At Seibu Dome, Takeya Nakamura broke a 4-4 tie with his third homer, a solo shot, as Seibu defeated Fukuoka Softbank for the second straight day with an eighth-inning home run off reliever Brian Falkenborg (0-4).

The Lions’ win moved them past the Hawks into third place in the dogfight for the PL’s two remaining playoff spots.