The Yomiuri Giants hit three homers for all their runs to defeat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5-2 on Friday, making the Hiroshima Carp wait at least another day to claim the Central League title.
With the magic number at one, a Yomiuri defeat at Jingu Stadium would have seen the pennant go to idle Hiroshima for the first time in 25 years, but the Giants got off to a strong start, with Hisayoshi Chono going deep off the very first pitch from Yakult’s Kyle Davies (4-4).
The right-hander allowed two more singles and Shuichi Murata hit a three-run homer with one out to give the Giants more breathing space and a 4-0 lead in the first. Yoshiyuki Kamei also hit a solo shot in the fourth off reliever Masato Nakazawa.
Former Carp pitcher Kan Otake (6-4) did his job on the mound, holding Yakult to one run on a solo homer from Wladimir Balentien in the sixth. Otake allowed four hits and a walk over seven innings, fanning three in a 119-pitch outing after back-to-back losing starts.
“I had two miserable games so I went on to the mound determined to grab a win,” said Otake, who spent 11 years in Hiroshima before he joined the Giants in 2014.
“(The early lead) gave me the courage and I just focused on doing my job. I was desperate every inning but am glad my pitches led to the win.”
Davies allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks over three innings, and Balentien’s second solo shot of the day in the ninth meant little as the Giants secured their fourth straight win to head back to Tokyo Dome on a high note ahead of a crucial two-game series with the Carp.
Buffaloes 4, Hawks 3
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Fukuoka SoftBank gave up its PL lead after Orix’s Hiroyuki Nakajima slugged a three-run homer in the first and Masataka Yoshida went deep for a go-ahead run in the eighth with his second homer in two games.
The Hawks, despite the defeat, secured their place in the three-team PL Climax Series.
Fighters 8, Eagles 2
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Hokkaido Nippon Ham overtook Fukuoka SoftBank to move atop the PL standings and also clinched its Climax Series berth as Hirotoshi Masui (7-3) held Tohoku Rakuten to a run over seven innings.
Kensuke Tanaka drove in the first run off Takahiro Norimoto (10-9) in a four-run first.
Lions 8, Marines 1
At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Prince Dome, Seibu’s Yusei Kikuchi (11-5) had a complete-game win for the first time in three years, holding Chiba Lotte to one run on six hits in a 115-pitch effort.
Kikuchi won his ninth straight decision.