Osaka – Yuma Mune’s two-run eighth-inning home run brought the Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes from behind as they clinched a postseason berth with a 2-2 tie against the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines on Tuesday.
With one on and two out in the eighth inning and Orix trailing 2-0 at Kyocera Dome Osaka, Mune drilled the first pitch he saw from lefty Kazuya Ojima for his eighth home run.
The Buffaloes, chasing their franchise’s first pennant since Ichiro Suzuki led the Orix BlueWave to the Japan Series in 1996, remained 2½ games ahead of the Marines.
Lotte opened the scoring in the fourth on Brandon Laird’s 26th home run, off Orix lefty Daiki Tajima. Takashi Ogino led off Lotte’s sixth with a triple and scored the Marines’ second run on a Shogo Nakamura single.
Both starting pitchers went eight innings, and both closers, Orix’s Yoshihisa Hirano and Lotte’s Naoya Masuda, retired all three batters they faced in the ninth to end it.
At Sapporo Dome, Nao Higashihama (4-3) struck out seven over seven innings as the fourth-place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks beat the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 5-0.
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Yuya Yanagi (11-5) worked eight innings, and Wataru Takamatsu’s eighth-inning tie-breaking sacrifice fly lifted the Chunichi Dragons to a 3-2 win over the Central League-leading Tokyo Yakult Swallows, who lead the Hanshin Tigers by two games.
At Tokyo Dome, closer Robert Suarez entered with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth, retired all four batters he faced and earned his 40th save in second-place Hanshin’s 2-1 win over the third-place Yomiuri Giants.
The Giants’ seventh straight loss, marking their longest such stretch in four years, eliminated the two-time defending champions from pennant contention, and left them five games ahead of the fourth-place Hiroshima Carp.
At Mazda Stadium, Seiya Suzuki drove in one run with an RBI double and two more with his 34th home run to power the Carp to a 3-0 win, their sixth straight, over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.
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