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Ace Masanori Ishikawa allowed three hits over 7⅔ scoreless innings as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows held off the Yokohama BayStars in a 3-2 Central League win on Wednesday.

Ishikawa (7-8) walked one and struck out three, and closer Ryo Akiyoshi allowed two runs in the ninth but held on to earn his 17th save.

The win pushed the fourth-place Swallows to within 3½ games of the third-place BayStars in the battle for the CL’s third and final playoff spot. The Swallows, last year’s CL champs, have eight games remaining, while the BayStars, chasing their first postseason berth in 18 years, have nine.

Wladimir Balentien broke a scoreless deadlock with his 30th homer of the season, a second-inning leadoff shot off Shoichi Ino (7-11). The righty pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam to keep it a one-run game, but could not repeat that feat in the fifth.

Tomotaka Sakaguchi opened the inning with a single and Shingo Kawabata walked. With two outs, Yuhei Takai fouled off five two-strike pitches before hitting a single on the 11th pitch of the at-bat to drive in both runners.

“That was a really gutsy, pesky at-bat,” manager Mitsuru Manaka said. “As long as there’s a chance, I want us to keep grinding.”

Elian Herrera singled in two runs with two outs in the ninth, but Akiyoshi struck out the final batter he faced to end the game.

Carp 6, Tigers 4

At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, Tomohiro Abe’s two-run double brought Hiroshima from behind in the eighth inning as the Carp won a see-saw battle with Hanshin.

Tigers starter Shintaro Fujinami allowed three runs in 6⅔ innings, and became the third-ever Japanese pitcher clocked at 160 kph.

Dragons 5, Giants 4

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Buffaloes 11, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, Masataka Yoshida homered twice and drove in six runs, while Daiki Matsuba (6-9) allowed a run in six innings as last-place Orix clobbered league-leading Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Lions 2, Marines 1 (11)

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Seibu ace Takayuki Kishi (8-7) allowed a run in 10 innings, and Hideto Asamura broke a 1-1 tie in the 11th with his 20th home run to beat Lotte.

Hawks 13, Eagles 0

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