Giants capture 45th regular-season title


The Yomiuri Giants clinched their 45th league title in franchise history on Friday, when they defeated the Yokohama BayStars 6-3.

The victory, combined with the Hiroshima Carp’s 4-3 loss to the Hanshin Tigers, clinched the Giants’ third straight Central League pennant. The Giants have won 36 CL titles and had nine before that in the single league era.

“This year’s pennant race was indeed a long, hard, difficult season,” said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara after his seventh CL title as Yomiuri skipper. “The players floundered and sweated, but kept their wits about them and really played hard. And now we are experiencing the greatest joy.”

Before a packed house at Yokohama Stadium, Giants ace Tetsuya Utsumi (7-8) allowed three runs in 7-2/3 innings to earn the victory. Three relievers finished the job, with Scott Mathieson getting the last out.

Yomiuri took a three-run lead in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Yoshiyuki Kamei and a two-run single by Yasuyuki Kataoka. In the sixth inning, Leslie Anderson’s two-run home run and a solo shot by former BayStar Shuichi Murata made it a 6-1 game.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo singled home a run in the fourth for Yokohama, and Aarom Baldiris’ RBI single made it 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth. Doubles by Yulieski Gurriel and Tsutsugo shaved another run off the Giants’ lead in the eighth.

Tigers 4, Carp 3

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin overturned a three-run deficit in the sixth inning on a Matt Murton RBI single and a three-run home run by Kosuke Fukudome to beat Hiroshima and knock the Carp out of pennant contention.

Eagles 9, Hawks 3

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Tetsuro Nishida hit a three-run double and a three-run homer for fourth-place Tohoku Rakuten, which completed a four-game sweep of league-leading Fukuoka Softbank. The win lifted the defending Japan Series champion Eagles to within 4-1/2 games of third-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham and the PL’s final playoff spot.

Lions 9, Buffaloes 6

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takeya Nakamura went 4-for-6 with a double and his 32nd home run and drove in three runs, and Seibu held off a late Orix rally to keep the Buffaloes from moving into first place.

Marines 8, Fighters 1

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Yuki Karakawa (4-9) allowed a run over the distance and Alfredo Despaigne went 3-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs as Chiba Lotte defeated Hokkaido Nippon Ham.