Nishinomiya, Hyogo Pref. – Jefry Marte hit his second three-run home run in two days, and Haruto Takahashi threw his second straight shutout as the second-place Hanshin Tigers earned a 3-0 Central League win over the Chunichi Dragons on Saturday.
The Tigers, seeking their first CL pennant in 16 years, trail the Tokyo Yakult Swallows by a game.
Takahashi (3-1) has not allowed a run since he surrendered six to the Swallows in his belated season debut on Sept. 9. Against the Dragons, he struck out six without issuing a walk while allowing five singles and needed just 97 pitches to get the job done.
Marte delivered the crushing blow to Dragons starting pitcher Yariel Rodriguez (0-4) in the first inning, blasting his 21st home run after no-out singles by Koji Chikamoto and Takumu Nakano.
“I’m really happy with that,” Marte said. “You always want to get some runs for your pitcher early on.”
Takahashi, whose only loss this season came against Yakult, is in line to face the CL leaders in a week’s time.
“I can’t explain these results except to say the guys have made good plays behind me and I’ve been a bit lucky,” Takahashi said. “Personally, I’d like to get some revenge (against Yakult) after they got the better of me. I think that’s normal.”
At Mazda Stadium, Tetsuto Yamada hit a two-run home run and Domingo Santana a three-run blast, and the Swallows held on to beat the Hiroshima Carp 9-5.
At Tokyo Dome, Seiya Matsubara scored three runs and Hayato Sakamoto drove in three as the third-place Yomiuri Giants remained four games back of Hanshin with a 5-4 win over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (16-5) won his 13th straight decision with a two-hitter as the Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes crushed the fourth-place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 6-0.
At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Takayuki Kishi (8-9) allowed a run over six innings as the third-place Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles beat the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines 6-1, dropping Lotte 1½ games back of Orix.
At Sapporo Dome, Yuto Takahama doubled in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Saitama Seibu Lions 2-1 in a clash between the PL’s bottom two teams.
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