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The Hiroshima Carp moved to the brink of their first Central League pennant since 1991 with a 7-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons.

The Carp’s fourth straight victory cut their magic number to clinch the pennant to one.

Before a record crowd of 32,546 at Mazda Stadium, Yusuke Nomura (14-3) allowed three runs in five innings on seven hits and a walk, while striking out two.

“It was my turn and I did my job when I was called,” said Nomura, who joined teammate Kris Johnson in the league lead with 14 wins.

The Carp knocked Chunichi starter Jordan Norberto (6-6) out in a five-run second inning. Seiya Suzuki singled and Eishin Soyogi walked before Yoshiyuki Ishihara doubled in a run to break a 1-1 tie.

“Everyone contributed to the rally,” Ishihara said. “This is my first experience (of the title race), so I don’t know how to express this (feeling).”

After twice bunting foul on a suicide squeeze attempt, Nomura singled to center to make it 3-1. Three more singles followed before the Carp were holding a commanding 6-1 lead.

The Dragons, however, whittled away at the lead. Nobumasa Fukuda homered in the second, Anderson Hernandez doubled and scored in the fifth off Nomura. Daichi Osera entered in the sixth and surrendered a single and an RBI double by Shota Sugiyama.

But three scoreless innings from Takeru Imamura, Jay Jackson and Shota Nakazaki — who earned his 32nd save — saw the Carp complete the series sweep.

Hiroshima is off on Friday, but can clinch if the second-place Yomiuri Giants lose to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows at Jingu Stadium.

“It would have been great to clinch here at home,” Ishihara said. “But we have games left to play, so let’s us players and the fans fight on together.”

Giants 3, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Koyo Aoyagi (4-5) hit two straight batsmen with one out in the eighth and Kyuji Fujikawa surrendered a three-run homer to Hayato Sakamoto as Yomiuri came from behind to beat Hanshin.

Swallows 5, BayStars 3

At Yokohama Stadium, Tokyo Yakult overturned a three-run deficit with a four-run seventh inning to avoid a sweep at the hands of Yokohama.

The Swallows’ Tomotaka Sakaguchi went 3-for-3 with one RBI.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Buffaloes 4, Hawks 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Masataka Yoshida hit a game-tying, sixth-inning homer, and Takahiro Okada broke up the 2-2 tie with an eighth-inning single as Orix knocked off league-leading Fukuoka SoftBank.

Marines 8, Lions 2

At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Prince Dome, Ayumu Ishikawa (13-5) allowed two runs in seven innings, and Shota Omine went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs to pace Chiba Lotte past Seibu.

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