HIROSHIMA – Tsubasa Aizawa’s 11th-inning RBI single lifted the Hiroshima Carp to a 4-3 win over the second-place Hanshin Tigers on Wednesday, leaving the Carp with a magic number of 10 to clinch their second straight pennant.
Aizawa, who entered the game as a defensive substitute, came up with pinch runner Takashi Uemoto on second and one out. With the outfield playing shallow to cut off the go-ahead run on a single, Aizawa belted a 3-2 pitch from reliever Tsuyoshi Ishizaki over the head of Yoshio Itoi in right for Hiroshima’s second straight walk-off win.
“Thanks for staying with us so late,” Aizawa told the fans after the game. “Takashi was eager to show his speed on second, and I knew he’d make it home, although to be honest, Kosuke (Tanaka) was on deck and I was thinking more of just making contact to give him a chance to end it.”
The Tigers’ Masahiro Nakatani opened the scoring in the second with his 19th home run of the year, but the run was the only one either team would score through six innings.
After a leadoff single in the third, Carp rookie Yuta Nakamura retired 12 straight batters before his only walk of the game and a high fastball to milestone-chasing Takashi Toritani made it 2-0 Tigers in the seventh.
Kosuke Fukudome laid off a low forkball to draw the leadoff walk, but was still on first with two outs. Toritani then drove a high 1-2 fastball off the fence to bring him home. Toritani would later add a single in the 11th to move within two of Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit mark.
Nakamura was charged with two runs on three hits, while striking out four over seven innings. Ryan Brasier gave up a run in the top of the eighth on a one-out pinch-hit double by Hiroki Uemoto, Takashi’s older brother, a walk and an RBI single by Fukudome.
But the Carp overcame the three-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth off Tigers setup man Marcos Mateo.
A one-out Ryosuke Kikuchi triple and a Yoshihiro Maru infield single created the first run. A single by Ryohei Matsuyama put runners on the corners, and a groundout made it 3-2. Tomohiro Abe hit the second pitch he saw from Mateo to tie it.
An error on right fielder Yoshio Itoi put Abe on third, but lefty Akifumi Takahashi came out of the bullpen to get the third out and leave the go-ahead run on third.
The Tigers wasted a strong start from lefty Minoru Iwata, who allowed four hits and a walk over 6⅓ scoreless innings.
Dragons 4, Giants 0
At Maebashi’s Shikishima Stadium, Yudai Ono (6-7) threw a two-hit shutout, while walking two and striking out five, and career reserve Tetsuya Tani hit his second career homer, a three-run shot, as Chunichi beat Yomiuri.
BayStars 1, Swallows 0 (11)
At Yokohama Stadium, Toshiro Miyazaki led off the bottom of the 11th inning with his 12th home run, snapping a scoreless tie with a walk-off homer as Yokohama squeaked past last-place Tokyo Yakult.
Hawks 8, Buffaloes 0
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Shota Takeda (5-2) scattered eight hits over the distance for his first shutout of the season, while Alfredo Despaigne went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer as Fukuoka SoftBank beat Orix.
Marines 8, Lions 7 (10)
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Wily Mo Pena hit a mammoth, two-run home run and delivered a 10th inning sacrifice fly to lift last-place Chiba Lotte over Seibu.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5