Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Giants move within one win of final playoff spot

Kyodo

Tomoyuki Sugano worked six innings, and Daisuke Nakai drove in two runs as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3-0 on Tuesday and inched closer to third place in the Central League.

Working on a shorter-than-usual, five-days rest, Sugano (17-5) allowed two hits and two walks, while striking out four. He was pulled after throwing 98 pitches. Four relievers completed the shutout that moved the fourth-place Giants to within one game of the third-place Yokohama BayStars.

The BayStars have seven games remaining and the Giants four, but the two teams won’t meet again during the regular season. The top three teams in each league make the postseason.

“If possible, I want to pitch deeper in games,” Sugano said. “I’ve got 17 wins because the fielders make great plays behind me.

“We can’t afford to lose a single game, but I try to block that out on the mound, and just focus on keeping runs off the board.”

The Giants took the lead against rookie Keiji Iwahashi (0-2) in the second inning at Tokyo Dome on three, no-out singles by Shuichi Murata, Hisayoshi Chono and Nakai.

Nakai homered with one out in the fourth to make it 2-0, and Chono homered in the sixth to complete the scoring.

“I’ve been around for a while, and I’m kind of embarrassed it’s taken me this long to make an impact,” said Nakai, a utility man who turned pro in 2008. “I’ve not done as much as I’d have liked this year, but there are games left and we want to win them all.”

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Marines 4, Hawks 3

At Yafuoku Dome, Chiba Lotte captain Daichi Suzuki drove in the winning run for the second straight game, homering in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie in a win over Fukuoka SoftBank.

Fighters 6, Buffaloes 2

At Kyocera Dome, Taishi Ota’s seventh-inning infield single plated Brandon Laird with the go-ahead run and Hokkaido Nippon Ham broke the game open against Orix with a three-run ninth.