George Arias blasted a pair of two run home runs and drove in five runs while Kei Igawa (11-3) picked up his ninth straight win, leading the Hanshin Tigers to an 8-4 victory over the Hiroshima Carp Tuesday at Muscat Stadium in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, the birth place of Hanshin manager Senichi Hoshino.

News photoHanshin’s George Arias hits a two-run homer, his second of the game, in the fifth inning against the Hiroshima Carp.

The Tigers won seventh consecutive game and, combined with the Yomiuri Giants’ 2-1 defeat to the Yakult Swallows, clinched the magic number to their first Central League pennant since 1985 at 49.

Capturing the magic number on July 8 is the earliest in the CL history and second overall to the Nankai Hawks on July 6 in 1965.

With the score tied at 1-1 in the second inning, Igawa singled home a go-ahead run and Makoto Imaoka hit an RBI single.

Arias nailed a two-run homer in the third and fifth innings to take the game away.

Igawa allowed 12 hits but held the Carp to three runs over the distance.

Swallows 2, Giants 1 (10)

At Jingu Stadium, Todd Betts smacked a “sayonara” solo home run off Hiroki Sanada in the bottom of the 10th inning, pacing Yakult over Yomiuri.

It was a pitchers’ duel between Yakult starter Masanori Ishikawa and Yomiuri rookie starter Yuya Kubo. Ishikawa gave up four hits and struck out four over nine innings while Kubo held the Swallows to three hits and fanned six batters in nine innings.

Betts had a game-tying solo blast in the fifth and winning shot in the 10th.

BayStars 4, Dragons 0

At Nagoya Dome, Chris Holt, Denney Tomori and Takeharu Kato all combined on a seven-hit shutout and Hitoshi Tamura drilled a three-run roundtripper in the first inning as Yokohama blanked Chunichi.


Buffaloes 8, Marines 1

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Tuffy Rhodes hit a home run in the third consecutive game — a three-run blast — as Kintetsu recorded fifth straight win over Lotte.

Lions 6, Fighters 5

At Seibu Dome, Alex Cabrera hit a pair of two-run home runs, lifting Seibu over Nippon Ham.

Seibu’s fourth pitcher Shinji Mori earned the win when he allowed one hit and struck out four over 1-2/3 innings while Kiyoshi Toyoda picked up his 23rd save of the season.

BlueWave 1, Hawks 0

At Fukuoka Dome, Koo Dae Song gave up three hits and struck out 11 over 7-2/3 innings and Orix scored the game’s only run on a wild pitch in the first inning as the BlueWave shutout Daiei.

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