NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. - Juri Hara pitched eight solid innings, drove in one run and scored another to lead the Tokyo Yakult Swallows to a 4-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers on Friday.
With the win, the Swallows remained in second place in the Central League behind the Hiroshima Carp, who secured their berth in the Climax Series for the third straight year, following the third-place Yomiuri Giants’ 4-2 loss to the Yokohama BayStars.
In front of 40,386 at a rainy Koshien Stadium, Hara (5-7) limited the Tigers to two hits, while striking out nine. The 25-year-old right-hander retired the batters in order until giving up his first hit to Efren Navarro with two outs in the fifth.
“I think I did a good job by giving out few hits,” Hara said. “The crowd was cheering for (the Tigers) so I thought they would pick up their rhythm once I pitched into a jam. I just wanted to throw without putting my team in a tight spot.”
Tigers right-hander Taiki Ono (7-6) had a rocky outing. He allowed Yakult leadoff man Tomotaka Sakaguchi to reach base with a first-inning double and score on Wladimir Balentien’s single.
The hard-hitting Swallows extended their lead with a three-run sixth inning. The visitors loaded the bases with two walks and a single, and Hara singled to drive in another run.
Ono was replaced by lefty Atsushi Nomi after issuing another walk, but Norichika Aoki doubled in two runs on a fastball to give Yakult a comfortable lead.
Hara allowed his second hit of the game to Takashi Toritani with two outs in the eighth, but fanned the next hitter to close the inning. Righty Taichi Ishiyama pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Tigers shortstop Fumiya Hojo was stretchered off in the top of the fourth after landing awkwardly on his left shoulder while making a catch.
BayStars 4, Giants 2
At Yokohama Stadium, right-hander Yasuaki Yamasaki fanned the three batters he faced in the ninth inning to record his 30th save of the season, and Shoichi Ino (6-3) threw 6-2/3 innings in Yokohama’s win over Yomiuri.
Lions 10, Eagles 5
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (12-4) limited Tohoku Rakuten to a run on two hits over eight innings and picked up his third straight win as PL-leading Seibu hammered the Eagles.
Rakuten rallied late on Hiroaki Shimauchi’s three-run triple and a Zelous Wheeler sacrifice fly, but fell to its fourth loss in a row.
Fighters 4, Buffaloes 3
At Sapporo Dome, Bryan Rodriguez (2-2) picked up the win after pitching six innings and catcher Shinya Tsuruoka went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s win over Orix.