• Kyodo

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The Chunichi Dragons knocked the Hiroshima Carp out of the Central League playoffs with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday in Nippon Professional Baseball’s belated regular-season finale.

The Dragons’ victory sent the Hanshin Tigers into the first stage of the CL Climax Series, a best-of-three series against the second-place Yomiuri Giants starting on Saturday at Tokyo Dome. The winner of that clash will move down the road to Jingu Stadium to face the league champion Tokyo Yakult Swallows for the right to advance to the Japan Series.

Needing a win at home to clinch third place, Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda gave 32,024 fans at Mazda Stadium seven scoreless innings, but the Dragons stung reliever Daichi Osera (3-8) for three eighth-inning runs in two-thirds of an inning.

The Dragons routinely threatened but were unable to capitalize until Ryosuke Hirata’s eighth-inning leadoff single was followed by a one-out double from Anderson Hernandez. Atsushi Fujii followed with an RBI triple.

With two outs, rookie pitcher Shunta Wakamatsu (10-4), who entered the game in the seventh, singled to drive in the third nail in the Carp’s coffin.

Three Dragons pitchers, including 50-year-old Masahiro Yamamoto, who faced the game’s first batter in his final start, combined to hold the Carp to one hit and two walks.

After a brief ceremony to honor Nippon Professional Baseball’s oldest player, lefty Yudai Ono took the mound and stuck it to the playoff contenders for 5⅔ innings. Ono allowed a two-out, first-inning single and a pair of walks.

Wakamatsu surrendered just a one-out walk in the ninth in his three-inning stint.

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