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Friday, Sep. 28, 2012

Fighters clinch playoff spot


SAPPORO — The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters became the first PL team to clinch a playoff berth with its 3-1 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Thursday, taking a two-run, first-inning lead on Yoshio Itoi's eighth homer of the year and getting five solid innings out of Kazuhito Tadano (6-5).

News photo
Satisfaction: Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters players congratulate one another after a 3-1 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Thursday at Sapporo Dome. KYODO

After the visitors got a run back in the fifth, Atsunori Inaba homered off Marines ace Yoshihisa Naruse (12-11) to lead off the sixth. Fighters closer Hisashi Takeda pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to reach 30 saves for the second straight season.

Lions 3, Eagles 1

At Seibu Dome, Esteban German's two-run single brought Seibu from a run down in the sixth inning and the Lions went on to beat Tohoku Rakuten.

The Lions remained two games behind the Pacific League-leading Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. The two teams will conclude their season series with two games in Sapporo on Friday and Saturday.

Rakuten took a first-inning lead when former Lions star Kazuo Matsui opened the game with a homer off southpaw Kazuhisa Ishii. Eagles starter Manabu Mima (7-10) held the Lions hitless through 5 2/3 innings before Hideto Asamura singled in the sixth. Asamura stole second, Shogo Akiyama walked and, with German at the plate, executed a double steal on an 0-2 pitch.

German worked the count full before hitting an outside pitch to right to turn the game around.

"It was the first opportunity we had to score, so I tried to be patient and get a good pitch to hit," said the 34-year-old Dominican.

"It's going to be a great two games (against Nippon Ham). We are going to go up there and do our best."

Asamura supplied an insurance run with his sixth homer of the season in the eighth, and Hideaki Wakui pitched out of a jam in the ninth to record his 28th save.


Carp 2, Giants 1

At Hiroshima's Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima's Soichiro Amaya singled in two runs with one out in the ninth off Yomiuri closer Kentaro Nishimura (3-2) to close to within 6 1/2 games of third-place Tokyo Yakult and the final Central League playoff spot.

Carp starter Bryan Bullington allowed a run on three hits in six innings, with the Giants' lone run scoring on a wild pitch following two singles in the inning.

Tigers 12, Swallows 0

At Tokyo's Jingu Stadium, Hanshin's Matt Murton homered for the first time since July 29 and drove in four runs, and top draft pick Hayata Ito's first career home run came with the bases loaded as the Tigers pounded Tokyo Yakult.

Tigers starter Akira Iwamoto (2-0) threw six scoreless innings despite allowing six hits and four walks and hitting a batter, and three relievers completed the shutout.

BayStars 2, Dragons 1

At Nagoya Dome, Yokohama won its fourth straight decision for its longest winning streak of the season, getting runs on a third-inning RBI single from Kensuke Uchimura and Alex Ramirez's fourth-inning homer, his 19th of the season.

Chunichi lefty Ryuya Ogawa (0-1) allowed two runs on four hits in four innings in his first career start. Ramirez went 1-for-3, moving to within 12 hits of 2,000 in his Japanese career.

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