• Kyodo


Atsushi Fujii scored from third on a throwing error by Craig Brazell in the ninth inning, giving the front-running Chunichi Dragons a 1-0 walk-off victory over the Hanshin Tigers on Wednesday night.

Brazell’s throw to the plate sailed high after the first baseman fielded a bases-loaded grounder by pinch-hitter Takehiro Donoue with one out in the ninth at Nagoya Dome.

If the Dragons beat the Tigers again on Thursday, they will have a magic number of two or three for clinching the Central League title depending on the Yomiuri Giants’ result.

“I know he (Kyuji Fujikawa) throws really, really hard, but I didn’t care. I just tried to stay aggressive,” Donoue said. “I prayed to God as I ran to first base. I’m glad we got a win in this must-win situation.”

Takuya Asao (12-3) got four outs in relief of Daisuke Yamai, who scattered five hits over 7 2/3 innings.

Tomoyuki Kubota (6-3) allowed Chunichi to load the bases on three singles in the ninth before Fujikawa faced Donoue.

Hanshin suffered its third loss in four games and slipped to third place in the CL standings.

Giants 6, BayStars 2

At Tokyo Dome, Hayato Sakamoto went 4-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs, Tetsuya Utsumi came one out away from a shutout and Yomiuri handed Yokohama its sixth consecutive loss.

Sakamoto had a solo shot in the fifth off Shigeru Kaga (3-10), his 31st of the season. Utsumi (10-8) gave up two runs and nine hits — five of them in the ninth — over 8 2/3 innings before closer Marc Kroon finished for his 22nd save.

Swallows 5, Carp 4

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama hit a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning as Tokyo Yakult ended Hiroshima’s five-game winning streak.

Takehiko Oshimoto (3-4) won in relief.

Swallows closer Lim Chang Yong got the final four outs for his 32nd save. Takahiro Aoki (1-6) took the loss.


Eagles 3, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, Akihisa Makida hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the fifth inning and Ryo Hijirisawa added a solo shot of his own in the sixth, leading Tohoku Rakuten past Hokkaido Nippon Ham in the only Pacific League game of the night.

With Nippon Ham’s loss, the second-place Fukuoka Softbank Hawks became the first PL team to earn a Climax Series berth.

Takashi Kawai (3-6) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings for the win. Shinichiro Koyama earned his 11th save. Masaru Takeda (13-7) had his winning streak snapped at eight decisions.

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