Dragons bullpen thwarts Carp comeback attempt


Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono tossed one-run ball over 6-1/3 innings, drove in the decisive run, and the bullpen did the rest to stave off the Hiroshima Carp in a 2-1 victory on Thursday night.

With second-place Hiroshima’s loss and a win by the Central League-leading Yomiuri the same day, the Giants saw their magic number to clinch the pennant reappear at 16. Hiroshima fell four games back out of first.

Carp starter Deunte Heath, who was seeking his third win in Japan, didn’t allow a run over five innings but was lifted anyway after issuing five walks at Mazda Stadium.

Despite the right-hander’s control issues, the plan backfired after reliever Katsuhiro Nagakawa (2-4) allowed a leadoff homer to Hector Luna and Ono’s RBI grounder for a 2-0 lead in the sixth.

“I did my best to make contact and make something happen,” Ono said of his grounder to second.

Hiroshima came within one run in the sixth. Ryosuke Kikuchi had a leadoff double and Rainel Rosario drew a one-out walk before Eishin Soyogi followed with an RBI single.

Ono (8-7) loaded the bases with another free pass to Kila Ka’aihue but retired the next two batters to end the threat.

The Carp got another golden opportunity when they loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but this time reliever Katsuki Matayoshi came in to strike out two to preserve the lead. Koji Fukutani picked up his sixth save with a perfect ninth.

“I put a lot of pressure on our bullpen when I left like I did, and I’m sorry for that. I have to thank my teammates for helping to get the win tonight,” Ono said. “I was able to keep the damage to a minimum but I feel bad that I left with one out and the bases loaded, so next time I want to make sure to close it out.”

Giants 6, Tigers 2

At Koshien Stadium, Hirokazu Sawamura threw two-run ball over seven innings to lead the way in a three-game sweep of Hanshin as CL leader Yomiuri notched its 70th win of the season and sent the rival Tigers to a season-worst sixth loss in a row.

Yoshiyuki Kamei and Shuichi Murata hit back-to-back two-run singles in the opening frame.

Swallows 3, BayStars 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Yuhei Nakamura broke a 2-2 tie with a sacrifice fly off closer Tomoya Mikami (0-3) in the ninth inning as Tokyo Yakult held off Yokohama, which snapped a three-game winning streak.

Pinch hitter Yasushi Iihara hit a tying solo blast in the eighth.

Fighters 7, Hawks 2

At Tokyo Dome, Hokaido Nippon Ham took advantage by scoring six runs in the first three innings, featuring Sho Nakata’s three-run homer off Shota Takeda (3-2) in the third, on the way to a rout of PL leader Fukuoka Softbank.

Luis Mendoza (6-12) pitched his first complete game in Japan, striking out six and walking one.

Lions at Marines — ppd.

Buffaloes at Eagles — ppd.