Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Juri Hara dodges bullets as Swallows keep Central League pennant race alive

Kyodo

Juri Hara repeatedly pitched out of trouble to work five innings as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows beat the Chunichi Dragons 2-0 on Sunday to guarantee the Central League pennant race would go on at least another day.

The first-place Hiroshima Carp, who started the day with a magic number of two to clinch their third-straight championship, needed to win and have the Swallows lose to wrap up the title over the weekend.

Hara (6-7) allowed eight hits and three walks, but his defense turned four double plays behind him. David Huff, Yugo Umeno and Kazuki Kondo each worked a scoreless inning of relief. Taichi Ishiyama worked the ninth to save his 30th game of the season. Ishiyama had been handed the closer role in May after going four seasons without a save.

“I’m really happy to get my 30th save, since my purpose is contributing to wins,” he said. “I only get in the game because the middle relievers like Kondo and Umeno do their jobs. I have to get us to the finish line so their work doesn’t go to waste.”

The Swallows, too, were bit by the double play bug. Yuhei Takai hit into a twin killing to end the first inning after the Swallows had loaded the bases against Onelki Garcia (13-8).

Norichika Aoki, however, broke the deadlock in the third inning, when he doubled and scored on Tetsuto Yamada’s two-out single. Keiji Obiki scored an insurance run in the fourth. He walked with one out, went to second on a groundout and scored on Suguru Ino’s single.

Giants 2, Tigers 1

At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, Soichiro Tateoka came off the bench as a pinch runner but decided it with his bat by hitting a two-out RBI single to break a 1-1 tie in the eight inning.

The result leaves the Giants 4½ games back of the second-place Swallows and keeps them in third place — the final postseason spot.

Carp 2, BayStars 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, the Carp moved to within one win of their third-straight CL pennant with a walk-off victory over Yokohama.

Starting pitcher Daichi Osera allowed a run over eight innings, while Ryoma Nishikawa tied it with a sixth-inning RBI single and pinch hitter Ryohei Matsuyama won it by singling in Takayoshi Noma in the ninth.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hawks 2, Fighters 0

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Ariel Miranda (4-1) threw 6⅔ innings and Yurisbel Gracial broke up a scoreless game with a solo home run, his eighth of the season, as second-place SoftBank moved five games ahead of third-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Marines 8, Eagles 3

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Chiba Lotte’s Hideaki Wakui (6-9) allowed three runs over six innings to best his former Seibu Lions teammate Takayuki Kishi (11-4) in a win over Tohoku Rakuten.