HIROSHIMA – With home runs by Ryuhei Matsuyama and Seiya Suzuki, the Hiroshima Carp defeated the Yokohama BayStars 4-0 on Thursday to move closer to a third straight Central League pennant.
Their magic number — their number of wins, losses by the trailing team, or combination of the two, needed to clinch the pennant — shrank to six with the victory at Mazda Stadium.
With less than a month left in the regular season, the Carp, with 74 wins, have an 11-1/2 game lead over the second-place Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
Carp starter Yusuke Nomura (7-4) earned the win by throwing six shutout innings. The 29-year-old right-hander struck out two and allowed four hits while walking one.
Hiroshima’s potent offense forced Yokohama starter Satoshi Iizuka to be pulled after just three innings, during which he gave up six hits and four runs. He walked three and struck out three, dropping to a 1-6 record with the loss.
Matsuyama put the Carp ahead in the bottom of the second with his 12th home run of the season, a solo blast deep to right.
Hiroshima extended the lead to 3-0 in the third when Suzuki followed a Yoshihiro Maru single by sending an Iizuka fastball, with the count 3-0, deep over left field for his 29th long ball of the year.
The Carp then added a third run in the inning on a Kosuke Tanaka ground-ball single that scored Matsuyama.
Hiroshima manager Koichi Ogata replaced Nomura with righty Ryuji Ichioka to start the seventh, and the Carp bullpen preserved the shutout.
The BayStars did not advance a runner past second base the entire game.
Swallows 4, Giants 2
At Tokyo Dome, Norichika Aoki hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to help Tokyo Yakult secure an important win over third-place Yomiuri.
The loss leaves the Giants three games behind the Swallows in the race for second.
Dragons 6, Tigers 2
At Koshien Stadium, Chunichi starter Daisuke Matsuzaka (6-4) got the win after pitching five innings of one-run ball against Hanshin.
The 38-year-old former Boston Red Sox hurler gave up five hits and a walk, while striking out four.