NIIGATA – D.J. Houlton threw two-run ball over six innings and helped his own cause with a run-scoring single, and the Yomiuri Giants banged out 15 hits to beat Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5-2 on Saturday and clinch the first Climax Series playoff spot in Japanese baseball.
With the victory, the Central League-leading Giants guaranteed to finish the season within the top three to secure a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive year since the system was introduced in 2007. Yomiuri also saw its magic number to claim the CL pennant title reduced to 13.
Houlton (11-6) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked two and Kentaro Nishimura picked up his 24th save. Kenji Yano went 4-for-5 and Shinnosuke Abe keyed a three-run first against Kyohei Muranaka (8-6) with his two-run double.
Yano had an RBI single to cap the first. Wladimir Balentien and Lastings Milledge hit an RBI double and sacrifice fly in back-to-back at-bats in the bottom of the first for all of the Swallows’ runs.
Tigers 1, Dragons 0
At Nagoya Dome, left-hander Atsushi Nomi pitched eight scoreless innings and Akihito Fujii executed a suicide squeeze for the decisive run in the ninth as Hanshin beat Chunichi.
Nomi (8-9) scattered four hits and struck out eight while walking one. Kyuji Fujikawa got his 22nd save. Yudai Kawai (3-4) took the loss. Veteran lefty Masahiro Yamamoto, making his first start since July 12, threw 5-1/3 scoreless innings for Chunichi.
Carp 3, BayStars 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kenta Maeda tossed his second shutout of the season and took the Central League lead with his 13th win of the year in a whitewash of Yokohama.
Maeda (13-6) yielded seven hits and struck out eight. Wang I-cheng’s (0-3) wild pitch opened the scoring in the fourth before Eishin Soyogi added a two-run double in the fifth.
Buffaloes 2, Fighters 1 (10)
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Lee Dae Ho hit a game-ending RBI single off reliever Yuya Ishii (0-1) with two outs in the 10th inning, lifting Orix past Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Bobby Scales drove in the tying run, making it 1-1, on a comebacker in the seventh against his former team. Yoshihisa Hirano (6-4) went two scoreless innings for the win.
Eagles 6, Lions 5
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, pinch hitter Takero Okajima broke a 5-5 tie with a bases-loaded walkoff RBI single with one out in the ninth inning, lifting Tohoku Rakuten over Seibu for its third win in a row.
Koji Aoyama (4-4) won in relief. Hideaki Wakui (1-4) took the loss.
Hawks 3, Marines 1
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Kenji Akashi hit a two-run triple and Seiichi Uchikawa added a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning as Fukuoka Softbank staved off Chiba Lotte, which lost seven in a row for the first time this season.