NAGOYA – The Yomiuri Giants took another step toward clinching their third straight Central League pennant on Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over the Chunichi Dragons.
The Giants’ win and a 12-3 defeat by the second-place Hiroshima Carp saw Yomiuri’s magic number to clinch the pennant shrink to two.
Tomoyuki Sugano (12-5) threw six shutout innings to earn the win and helped himself out by driving in a run with a fifth-inning squeeze. The right-hander allowed three hits and two walks, while striking out four.
The Giants scored twice in the fifth off Dragons starter Yudai Ono (9-8), who surrendered four runs, one earned, in eight innings.
The Giants took the lead in the fifth on two hits and an error. With one out and runners on the corners, Yoshiyuki Kamei took off for second when Taishi Ota struck out swinging. But the throw from Dragons player manager Motonobu Tanishige was not caught by second baseman Masahiro Araki, allowing the Giants to score their first run.
A walk to the No. 8 hitter brought Sugano up with one out, and the pitcher executed a squeeze to make it a 2-0 game.
The Giants surrendered a seventh-inning run on a wild pitch by reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi, but added two more in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Jose Lopez and an error by former Giant Takahito Kudo.
Scott Mathieson finished up with a scoreless ninth to record his 30th save.
Swallows 12, Carp 3
At Jingu Stadium, Tokyo Yakult phenom Tetsuto Yamada hit two of his team’s four home runs and drove in four runs as the Swallows overcame a three-homer salvo from Hiroshima, which fell seven games back of league-leading Yomiuri.
Tigers 6, BayStars 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Mauro Gomez hit a tie-breaking, two-run, ninth-inning home run off rookie closer Tomoya Mikami (1-4) as Hanshin defeated DeNA to move to within 1-1/2 games of second place in the CL.
Eagles 7, Hawks 3
At Yafuoku Dome, Tohoku Rakuten ambushed Fukuoka Softbank ace Tadashi Settsu (10-8) for six runs in the third inning as Kazuya Fujita, Takero Okajima and Shintaro Masuda each hit a two-run double. The Eagles moved to within 5½ games of the PL’s final playoff spot with 11 games to play.
Buffaloes 1, Lions 0
At Kyocera Dome, Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (15-5) allowed five hits and three walks over eight scoreless innings and Yoshihisa Hirano worked the ninth for his 37th save in a win over Seibu that saw the Buffaloes move to within 1½ games of the front-running Hawks.
Marines 9, Fighters 5
At QVC Marine Field, Lotte moved out of last place in the PL standings by burying Nippon Ham with a 15-hit onslaught.