HIROSHIMA - Neftali Soto homered twice and drove in five runs, propelling the Yokohama BayStars to a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Central League pennant-chasing Hiroshima Carp on Monday.
Soto’s three-run homer capped a four-run third inning off Carp starter Kris Johnson (10-5) and gave the visitors a 4-2 lead at rainy Mazda Stadium. Soto, who didn’t make his first-team debut for the BayStars until May 6, broke the game open in the seventh with his 35th homer, a two-run shot off Makoto Aduwa.
Entering the day with a magic number of one to clinch their third straight pennant, the Carp needed to win at home or hope the Chunichi Dragons could knock off the second-place Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.
The Carp opened the scoring in the bottom of the second against lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi on an RBI double by Yoshiyuki Ishihara. The Carp catcher scored on Kosuke Tanaka’s two-out RBI single.
The BayStars got on the board in the third on three straight singles by Masayuki Kuwahara, Yamato Maeda and Toshiro Miyazaki. Johnson issued a walk after Soto’s homer, but retired the final three batters to avoid further damage.
Xavier Batista singled home Seiya Suzuki with Hiroshima’s third run in the following inning. After Hamaguchi surrendered an infield single off his glove, Yokohama manager Alex Ramirez turned to lefty Edwin Escobar, who got the double play the BayStars coveted.
The BayStars added a run in the sixth on a two-base throwing error and a Hikaru Ito sacrifice fly.
Johnson left after six innings, having allowed five runs, four earned, on four hits and three walks, while striking out eight. Aduwa surrendered a walk and Soto’s second home run, making it a 7-3 game.
Yoshihiro Maru, a strong candidate to win his second straight CL MVP award, belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning, but that was the only damage Hiroshima could inflict on Yokohama’s bullpen.
Swallows 6, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Wladimir Balentien belted his 34th home run, a two-run blast in the third, and six pitchers held Chunichi to a run as Yakult’s faint hopes of winning the CL pennant remained alive for another day.
Giants 0, Tigers 0 (12 innings)
At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri’s Christopher Mercedes went eight innings, and Hanshin’s Yuta Iwasada seven, pitching out of a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the seventh in a game declared a tie after 12 innings.
Hawks 2, Fighters 1
At Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank rookie Kotaro Otake (3-1) threw 6⅓ scoreless innings to outduel Nippon Ham’s Naoyuki Uwasawa (11-6), who struck out 14 over eight innings, but surrendered a two-run home run to Nobuhiro Matsuda. Yuito Mori became the seventh Nippon Professional Baseball player to save six straight games.
The win moved the second-place Hawks six games ahead of the third-place Fighters in the battle for postseason pole position. The loss eliminated Nippon Ham from pennant contention.
Lions 4, Eagles 3 (10 innings)
At Rakuten Seimei Park, Takeya Nakamura hit the fourth of Seibu’s four solo home runs in the 10th inning to beat last-place Rakuten.
Marines 8, Buffaloes 2
At Kyocera Dome, Shogo Nakamura scored three of the four times he was on base, and 19-year-old Hisanori Yasuda, Lotte’s top draft pick a year ago, doubled twice and drove in four runs in a win over Orix.