Veteran starter Tsuyoshi Wada threw 5⅓ shutout innings as the second-place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks took a big step toward the Pacific League playoffs with a 7-3 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Tuesday.

With two games remaining, the victory at Fukuoka's PayPay Dome ensures the 71-68-2 Hawks will finish the regular season with a winning record and leaves them 1½ games clear of the third-place Chiba Lotte Marines, who lost 4-1 to the Seibu Lions.

The Eagles are a further half-game back from the third and final playoff berth.

Wada (8-6) struck out six, while limiting the Eagles to three hits and a pair of walks in the must-win game for both teams.

"I threw with everything I had from the first inning," the 42-year-old Wada said.

Playing in his 21st season as a pro, the former Chicago Cubs southpaw appeared unfazed by the big moment in the home finale, in front of more than 38,000 fans.

"One win or loss can change our position in the standings. There's pressure, but the joy of being able to pitch in this situation is much greater," he said.

Tatsuru Yanagimachi, Seiji Uebayashi and Kenta Imamiya each drove in two runs for SoftBank, while Triple Crown contender Kensuke Kondo went 2-for-2, scored two runs and drew a pair of walks.

Yuki Yanagita drove in the opening run before Yanagimachi made it 3-0 with his two-RBI double in the bottom of the first. The Eagles scored their first run in the top of the eighth before the Hawks all but sealed the result with four runs in the home half of the inning.

In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants beat the Chunichi Dragons 3-1.