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Friday, Sep. 23, 2011

Dragons, Ochiai to part ways after season


NAGOYA — The Chunichi Dragons said Thursday they will not re-sign manager Hiromitsu Ochiai for next season and are going to replace him with Morimichi Takagi.

News photo
End of an era: Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai, who has led the team to three Central League titles since 2004, will not return to the Chunichi dugout next season. KYODO PHOTO

Chunichi made the announcement at a time when the team is still in the hunt for the Central League title.

The second-place Dragons were 4½ games behind the Yakult Swallows before the two clubs opened a crucial four-game series Thursday. Entering the series, Chunichi had 26 games remaining and Yakult had 25.

The 57-year-old Ochiai, a three-time Pacific League batting Triple Crown winner in the 1980s with the Lotte Orions, is in the final season of his three-year contract with Chunichi.

He took the helm in 2004 and led Chunichi to three CL titles over the past seven seasons.

In 2007, the Dragons finished the regular season in second place but bounced back to win its first Japan Series crown in 53 years.

"Manager Ochiai has staged one of the greatest time periods in the history of our franchise," Chunichi owner Bungo Shirai said.

"He is the longest-serving Chunichi manager and has achieved brilliant results. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame this year, and it's the final year of his three-year contract. We just decided it's time to move on from the Ochiai era."

The 70-year-old Takagi previously managed the Dragons from 1992-95.

The former second baseman spent all of his 21-year playing career through 1980 with Chunichi.

"This is a bolt from the blue," Takagi said. "It took me a while to accept the offer because it would be tough to serve after such a great manager. It's an honor to get the second chance at this age. I'll do my utmost."

Dragons top Swallows


NAGOYA — Motonobu Tanishige hit a tiebreaking double in a three-run sixth inning and Kazuki Yoshimi threw seven innings of one-run ball as the Chunichi Dragons edged the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3-2 on Thursday.

The second-place Dragons took the opener of a crucial four-game series at Nagoya Dome to move within 3½ games of the Swallows in the Central League standings.

Tony Blanco tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth with a two-out RBI single, Chunichi's first hit of the night.

Tanishige's double off the wall in left-center scored Blanco all the way from first and Takehiro Donoue capped the rally with a run-scoring single, chasing Shohei Tateyama (10-3).

Yoshimi (15-3) won his seventh straight start and became the first 15-game winner in the CL.

The right-hander allowed one run and seven hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one in a 122-pitch outing.

Norichika Aoki's RBI single pulled the Swallows within a run in the ninth but Hitoki Iwase finished for his 31st save.

BayStars 4, Carp 3

At Yokohama Stadium, Tatsuhiko Kinjo had a two-run single in the third inning as Yokohama edged Hiroshima.

Shigeru Kaga (4-1) allowed three runs in six innings for the win and Shun Yamaguchi picked up his 27th save.

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