HIROSHIMA – The Chunichi Dragons locked up one of the Central League’s three playoff berths on Saturday with a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp, clinching at least third place in the final Central League standings.
Soma Yamauchi (10-6) allowed four hits and issued four walks, while striking out one in eight innings to earn the victory. Jorge Sosa allowed the tying runs to reach base in the bottom of the ninth but escaped a two-out jam to complete the shutout and earn his fourth save.
Yamauchi reached double digits in wins for the first time in his six-year career.
“This was my target from opening day,” said the 27-year-old right-hander.
A two-base error by Carp first baseman Brad Eldred allowed Dragons leadoff man Yohei Oshima to get aboard in the fourth inning. A sacrifice and a groundout to second brought him home to open the scoring against Hiroshima right-hander Bryan Bullington (6-14).
Takehiro Donoue’s leadoff single and a double by his younger brother Naomichi set the stage for Yamauchi to drive in a run with a groundout to third.
The Dragons have now reached the Climax Series every year since it began in 2007 and will be in the postseason for the seventh straight season, having won the CL pennant in 2006.
Dragons catcher Motonobu Tanishige moved into the second spot in career strikeouts in the fifth inning. In the ninth, he struck out for the 1,714th time. Slugger Kazuhiro Kiyohara heads the list with 1,955. Tanishige is third in career games played with 2,755, behind only Hall of Famers Katsuya Nomura and Sadaharu Oh.
“I’ve been hearing a lot about my strikeouts recently,” said the 41-year-old said. “But it’s not like I’ve been striking out twice a game recently.”
Giants 4, Tigers 2
At Tokyo Dome, Shinnosuke Abe and Shuichi Murata each drove in two runs as Yomiuri avoided losing consecutive games for the first time this month as the Giants beat Hanshin and lowered their magic number to clinch the CL pennant to five.
Hanshin’s Tomoaki Kanemoto took over sole possession of the 10th spot on Japan’s all-time home run list, with a two-run shot in the fourth off Ryosuke Miyaguni (5-2). The homer was the 475th of the 44-year-old Kanemoto’s career and moved him past Tigers legend Koichi Tabuchi. Kanemoto has announced he will retire at the end of the season.
Swallows 2, BayStars 1
At Jingu Stadium, former pitcher Yuhei Takai drove in the tie-breaking run in the seventh inning as third-place Tokyo Yakult moved three games clear of fourth-place Hiroshima with a win over Yokohama.
The Swallows opened the scoring in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Shinya Miyamoto, but the BayStars tied it 1-1 in the top of the seventh on doubles by Alex Ramirez and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.
Marines 5, Lions 2
At QVC Marine Field, Chiba Lotte rookie Takahiro Fujioka allowed two runs over five innings to earn his first win since May 24, and the bullpen stopped Seibu on four hits the rest of the way.
Ikuhiro Kiyota doubled home leadoff man Yoshifumi Okada with no outs in the first, and the Marines capitalized on an error to add three runs in the second. Tadahito Iguchi singled, went to third on a throwing error by starter Jun Yamamoto and scored on Tomoya Satozaki’s single. Two walks loaded the bases, and Shunichi Nemoto singled in two runs.
Hawks 5, Fighters 2
At Sapporo Dome, Fukuoka Softbank teenager Shota Takeda (6-1) won his rematch with Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s young gun Masaru Nakamura (2-1), although this one was anything but an epic pitchers’ duel. Both went five innings with Takeda allowing two runs and the 21-year-old Nakamura three.
The Hawks’ Yuya Hasegawa made it a 3-1 game in the second with a two-run homer, leaving Nakamura on the hook. On Sept. 2, Nakamura had beaten Takeda in a 2-1 Fighters victory at Yahoo Dome.
Eagles 3, Buffaloes 1
At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Tohoku Rakuten’s Luis Garcia tied the game with a seventh-inning homer and singled home two runs in the eighth to lead the Golden Eagles past Orix to their fourth straight victory.
Ace Masahiro Tanaka started for the Eagles but got no decision after allowing a run in six innings. Right-handed reliever Kazuya Takahori (2-0) picked up the win as three Rakuten relievers allowed just one base runner over the final three innings.