• Kyodo


Rookie Koki Ugusa triggered a four-run first inning with a leadoff home run and the Central League’s fourth-place Hiroshima Carp held on to beat the third-place Yomiuri Giants 8-7 on Saturday.

The win at Tokyo Dome kept the Carp’s hopes of seizing a playoff berth alive as they moved to within three games of the Giants with eight games left to play.

Seiya Suzuki, winner of the CL’s last two Batter of the Month Awards, hit his 36th home run and scored twice, while Ryosuke Kikuchi doubled, homered, scored twice and drove in three for the Carp, who knocked out Giants starter Yuki Takahashi (11-9) in the first inning.

“Seiya advised me to be ready to go after the first good pitch and just swing like I do in practice,” said Ugusa, who hit Takahashi’s second pitch for his third home run.

Carp starter Masato Morishita (8-7) took an 8-0 lead into the seventh but served up a leadoff homer to Zelous Wheeler, his 14th, in a five-run inning.

Three relievers, however, kept the Giants from evening the score, although Wheeler doubled in two with two outs in the ninth off rookie closer Ryoji Kuribayashi, who hung on to record his 34th save.

At Jingu Stadium, Dayan Viciedo’s two-out two-run single for the Chunichi Dragons snapped a fifth-inning tie in their 5-3 win over the first-place Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Yakult’s magic number to clinch their first pennant since 2015 remained at six.

At Sapporo Dome, Steven Moya’s eighth-inning RBI single brought the Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes from a run down in their 1-1 tie with the last-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Yuki Yanagita capped a five-run second inning with a three-run home run and the fourth-place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks held off the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines 10-4.

At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Hiroaki Shimauchi hit a two-run first-inning home run and three Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitchers combined on a six-hit 3-0 shutout of the Saitama Seibu Lions. The Eagles’ win kept them five games ahead of Hawks in their battle for the PL’s final playoff spot.

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