TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. – The lowly Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles put the Seibu Lions’ title celebrations on hold at least for one more day in dramatic fashion, and Jose Fernandez did the damage against his old team Tuesday.
Fernandez drove in seven runs in a 3-for-5 performance, highlighted by a ninth-inning grand slam, lifting the Eagles to a 10-7 win over the Lions, who nonetheless reduced their magic number to clinch the Pacific League pennant to one after the Orix Buffaloes’ defeat.
Seibu was within two outs of clinching its first league title in four years when Fernandez lined the first pitch from Alex Graman (3-3) over the center-field wall for his second homer of the game, which followed a bases-loaded walk by pinch hitter Akihito Fujii.
Fernandez, who was with the Lions in 2004 and 2005, had hit an RBI double and a two-run homer to help Rakuten to a 3-1 lead through three innings.
Fernando Seguignol drove a two-run homer to make it 5-2 in the top of the eighth after Yasuyuki Kataoka tripled and scored on a botched relay throw to pull Seibu within a run in the seventh.
But the real drama was to follow as the Lions took advantage of defensive miscues to score five runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Left fielder Masato Nakamura and reliever Ryan Glynn committed errors to set up a sacrifice fly by Toru Hosokawa and a Kataoka RBI single before a bases-loaded double by Taketoshi Goto gave Seibu a 7-5 lead.
Graman, however, failed to finish off the game in the top of the ninth that also included a fielding error by third baseman Takeya Nakamura and singles from Toshiya Nakashima and Naoto Watanabe.
Tsuyoshi Kawagishi (3-3), the Eagles’ sixth pitcher of the game, got the final four outs in picking up the win.
Marines 6, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Daisuke Hayakawa led the offense with four hits and Shunsuke Watanabe pitched 7 2/3 solid innings as Lotte downed Orix, leaving the Buffaloes’ magic number to earn a Climax Series spot at four.
Lotte went ahead 2-0 in the second on RBI singles from Shoitsu Omatsu and Hayakawa. Kei Hosoya got the first of his two RBIs of the day with a fifth-inning single and Benny Agbayani added a two-run homer to stretch the lead to 5-0 in the sixth.
Watanabe (13-7) carried a shutout into the eighth and allowed one run on six hits.
Mamoru Kishida (4-1) was charged with five runs in six innings.
Fighters 5, Hawks 2
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Terrmel Sledge came within a triple of hitting for the cycle and Masaru Takeda (7-7) threw seven scoreless innings as Hokkaido Nippon Ham handed Softbank its fifth loss in a row.
Baseball legend Sadaharu Oh announced his decision to quit as Hawks manager at the end of the season.
Carp 4, Giants 4 (12)
At Hiroshima Stadium, pinch hitter Yoshinobu Takahashi hit a three-run homer in the top of the eighth and Tomonori Maeda delivered a game-tying single in the bottom half as Hiroshima and Yomiuri played out a 12-inning tie.
A Hayato Sakamoto RBI groundout and Takahashi’s shot off closer Katsuhiro Nagakawa turned a two-run deficit into a 4-2 lead for Yomiuri, which had secured a Central League playoff spot on Monday with its 11th consecutive win.
Swallows 4, Dragons 2
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Shohei Tateyama pitched 7 1/3 strong innings and Kazuki Fukuchi drove in two runs, leading Yakult over Chunichi.
Tateyama (10-3) matched his career high in wins after allowing two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Tigers 1, BayStars 1 (12)