Shohei Tateyama allowed two hits over seven innings and Kazuhiro Hatakeyama drove in three runs as the Central League-leading Tokyo Yakult Swallows beat the fading Hiroshima Carp 6-0 on Wednesday afternoon.
Tateyama (6-2), who returned this season from his third Tommy John surgery, was perfect through five innings.
Hiroshima’s Tomohiro Abe ended that when he reached on a broken-bat leadoff single in the sixth. The Carp managed their only two hits off Tateyama in that inning, but both runners were thrown out by catcher Yuhei Nakamura while trying to steal second.
“We got a big win yesterday from (lefty Masanori) Ishikawa, and my job was to continue what he started,” Tateyama said after Yakult rolled to its third straight win. “Nakamura called a great game, but did way more than that.”
“I was focused on maintaining a good pace. I’ve never thrown a perfect game so it never entered into my mind.”
Tetsuto Yamada singled off Carp starter Hiroki Kuroda (9-8) with two outs in the first inning and scored the game’s first run on a double by Hatakeyama. The duo teamed up again in the third, with Yamada singling and Hatakeyama going deep for the 26th time this season.
“With Tateyama on the mound, one run should be enough to win, but give him two more and the game is in the bag,” Hatakeyama said. “We just need to focus on winning each game as it comes, without concerning ourselves about what the other teams are doing.”
The Swallows have a magic number of six to clinch their first CL pennant since 2001.
Kuroda, who was pitching on four-days rest, allowed three runs on four hits and two walks, but the Carp offense failed to show up. The loss left the Carp, preseason favorites to win the pennant this season, 6½ games off the pace with 10 games to play.
“At this stage of the season, results are everything,” Kuroda said. “You can attribute this to my working on four-days rest, but the position players are playing 12 games straight.”
Giants 3, Tigers 2
At Tokyo Dome, light-hitting utility infielder Takayuki Terauchi delivered the game-winning hit, driving home Yoshiyuki Kamei with one out in the ninth inning as Yomiuri got the best of Hanshin closer Oh Seung-hwan (2-3) to stay within two games of the league-leading Swallows.
Dragons 4, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Australia’s Drew Naylor (4-3) allowed a run in six innings, and retiring veteran Kazuhiro Wada iced the battle between the league’s two worst teams with a pinch-hit, two-run single.
Marines 1, Eagles 0
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Ikuhiro Kiyota doubled with two outs in the sixth and sprinted around third to score the game’s only run when Tadahito Iguchi beat out a high chopper to shortstop as Chiba Lotte beat Tohoku Rakuten to win its third straight.
Fighters 3, Hawks 2 (11)
At Sapporo Dome, Fukuoka SoftBank’s Yuya Hasegawa tied it with a solo home run in the ninth inning, but Brandon Laird, whose sayonara home run won it for Hokkaido Nippon Ham on Tuesday, set-up the game-winner with a one-out double and Daiki Asama singled in the winning run.
Lions 8, Buffaloes 4
At Saitama’s Seibu Prince Dome, Ernesto Mejia homered twice, walked and drove in three runs to lead Seibu past Orix. The win kept the third-place Lions one game ahead of Lotte in the race for the PL’s final playoff spot.
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