SAPPORO – Nobuhiro Matsuda and Yuki Yanagita both homered and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks edged closer to clinching their second straight Pacific League title with a 7-3 defeat of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Thursday night.
The Hawks’ fifth straight win put them 13½ games ahead of second-placed Nippon Ham and reduced their magic number to clinch the pennant to six.
Seiichi Uchikawa led off the second inning with a single and Lee Dae-ho, who hit a grand slam in Wednesday’s 13-2 rout, added a single to right before Matsuda opened the scoring with his 32nd homer of the season off Shohei Otani.
Takuya Nakashima pulled a run back for the Fighters when he singled home Haruki Nishikawa in the bottom of the third and then tied the game up in the fifth with a two-run triple.
But with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, Softbank regained the lead on Kenta Imamiya’s two-run single and Yanagita knocked Otani out with a two-run homer in the seventh, his 31st of the campaign.
Otani (13-5) allowed all seven of the Hawks’ runs in six-plus innings for the loss.
Tadashi Settsu (10-5) gave up three runs over five frames to earn the win. Dennis Sarfate closed out the game for his 36th save.
Buffaloes 6, Marines 1
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Takahiro Okada tied the game in the eighth inning and Ryoichi Adachi batted in two runs in the four-run frame as Orix came from behind to beat Chiba Lotte.
Orix’s Kazumasa Yoshida (1-5) picked up his first win of the season.
Giants 5, Tigers 4
At Koshien Stadium, Shinnosuke Abe homered for the second game in a row with a two-run shot in the sixth inning and Hayato Sakamoto added a solo shot in the eighth in Yomiuri’s win over Hanshin.
Carp 4, Dragons 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, an RBI double from Takahiro Arai and a two-run single from Yoshiyuki Ishihara brought Hiroshima from behind in the eighth inning and Kris Johnson (11-7) gave up two runs over eight frames to pick up the win as the Carp prevailed against Chunichi.
Swallows 3, BayStars 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tetsuto Yamada clubbed his 34th home run of the season in Tokyo Yakult’s defeat of Yokohama.
Swallows starter Masanori Ishikawa (10-9) pitched 6-2/3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits, to register his 10th for the second year in a row.
Yakult is tied at the top of the CL with Hanshin.
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