HIROSHIMA – The Hiroshima Carp lowered their magic number to clinch the Central League pennant to two on Wednesday with a 12-4 win over the Yokohama BayStars.
Leadoff man Kosuke Tanaka provided the spark after rookie pitcher Yuta Nakamura surrendered two runs in the top of the first.
Tanaka homered to open the home half of the first off rookie BayStars pitcher Satoshi Iizuka (1-3). A double and a two-out single set the table, and Tomohiro Abe’s RBI single tied it. The inning got away from the BayStars when the No. 8 hitter was walked intentionally only for Carp pitcher Yuta Nakamura to single in a run. Tanaka then capped the rally with a two-run single.
“I went up to bat thinking how rare it is to get two hits in an inning, so I was concentrating as hard as I could,” Tanaka said.
The defending CL champs started the day with a magic number of four to clinch, but their win and a loss by the second-place Hanshin Tigers dropped it to two.
Nakamura allowed three runs in three innings. Allen Kuri (9-5) followed him to the mound and earned the win after allowing a run in two innings. Four more relievers kept the BayStars off the board and out of the game.
Swallows 2, Dragons 1
At Jingu Stadium, Juri Hara (3-9) scattered eight hits, a walk and a hit batsman over seven innings as he allowed just one run and Tetsuto Yamada had a pair of RBI singles as Tokyo Yakult beat Chunichi.
Giants 7, Tigers 2
At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, former Pacific League MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa (1-2) won his first game since moving from Hokkaido Nippon Ham to Yomiuri in a trade last November. The lefty surrendered eight hits and a walk but still managed to hold Hanshin scoreless over six innings.
Buffaloes 5, Hawks 2
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Chris Marrero homered in three consecutive at-bats off Fukuoka SoftBank’s Rick van den Hurk (12-7), while Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (11-7) allowed two runs over seven innings, snapping the Hawks’ winning streak at nine games.
Marines 4, Fighters 1
At Sapporo Dome, Chiba Lotte’s Chihaya Sasaki (3-7) scattered eight hits and two walks over the distance, but lost his shutout bid on a one-out solo homer in the ninth, when Nippon Ham rookie Toshitake Yokoo homered for the second straight game.
Lions 7, Eagles 3
At Sendai’s Kobo Park Miyagi, Takeya Nakamura’s 26th home run, a three-run, sixth-inning blast brought Seibu from behind en route to its ninth straight win over Tohoku Rakuten.