Dragons move closer to Central League pennant


Kazuki Yoshimi pitched a three-hit shutout as the Chunichi Dragons completed a four-game sweep of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows with a 2-0 win Thursday, cutting their magic number for clinching a second straight Central League title to two.

Yoshimi (17-3) joined Yomiuri Giants left-hander Tetsuya Utsumi as the only 17-game winners in the league after limiting the Swallows to three singles without a walk at Nagoya Dome.

“I wanted to go the distance to give relief pitchers a day of rest, so I’m glad I threw a complete-game shutout,” the right-hander said. “We had the momentum against them, so I didn’t feel extra pressure going into tonight’s game. I hope the team can celebrate the title victory tomorrow.”

Chunichi took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on back-to-back two-out doubles from Ryosuke Hirata and Tony Blanco.

Kazuhiro Wada made it 2-0 in the sixth with an RBI double to left-center off Katsuki Akagawa (6-2).

“We couldn’t score the second run for a while, and I thought I had to be the one to drive home a runner in that situation,” Wada said. “We did well in the 10-game home stand (8-1 with one tie), and we’ll continue to do so in Tokyo.”

The Dragons will clinch their ninth CL title Friday if they beat or tie with the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome and the Swallows lose to the Hanshin Tigers at Jingu Stadium.

Tigers 10, BayStars 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Takahiro Arai went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs, leading Hanshin to a rout of Yokohama.

Arai hit a solo home run in the second inning, a two-run single in the third and an RBI single in the sixth.

Tatsuya Kojima (1-1) pitched 5⅓ shutout innings in his first start of the season, while Daisuke Miura (4-6) was roughed up for six runs in five innings.


Hawks 6, Fighters 0

At Sapporo Dome, Tsuyoshi Wada (16-5) pitched seven scoreless innings as PL champion Fukuoka Softbank blanked Hokkaido Nippon Ham to extend its winning streak to nine games.

Yuichi Honda tripled in two runs and Nobuhiro Matsuda added a two-run homer in a five-run seventh inning. Munenori Kawasaki had four of Softbank’s 14 hits.

Buffaloes 3, Marines 0

At Kyocera Dome, Yuki Nishi and two relievers combined on a five-hit shutout as Orix beat Chiba Lotte for its first win in seven games.