Dragons win 4th straight; Swallows drop 3rd this month
The Chunichi Dragons are putting the heat on the Yakult Swallows ... and they are starting to play more like dead ducks.
Yohei Oshima and Tony Blanco each homered, and Yudai Kawai outdueled Kenta Maeda as the Dragons edged the Hiroshima Carp 2-1 on Wednesday at Nagoya Dome to win their fourth straight.
Blanco blasted a hanging curve from Maeda (9-11) in the eight to break a 1-1 tie, after Kawai (4-3) wriggled through eight innings – allowing just four hits with no walks -- to even things in the Central League standings.
The defending CL-champion Dragons, who were at one time down 10 games to the Swallows, moved a season-best 14 games over .500.
After Kenta Kurihara’s RBI single in the first gave Hiroshima the lead, Oshima cracked his third of the season in the third to even the score. Neither team got on the board again until Blanco teed off on Maeda with a monster shot to left, his 12th.
The Dragons, who have three more wins and three more losses than Yakult, have 14 to play, while the Swallows have 13. Set-up man Takuya Asao, who earned his eighth save with a scoreless ninth, broke his own club mark for appearances in a season with his 73rd.
TIGERS 3, SWALLOWS 0
Tomoaki Kanemoto bounced a chopper through the right side to score the game’s first run and Hanshin went on to take down Yakult and gain ground on third-place Yomiuri with a win at Kyocera Dome Osaka.
Kyuji Fujikawa came on with two outs in the eighth to shut the Swallows down and pick up his 36th save, and Matt Murton singled twice to stretch his hitting streak to 24, fourth longest in club history. He took over the CL batting lead, upping his average to .318.
Yakult has lost four of five.
BAYSTARS 5, GIANTS 4
First-year import Brandon Mann (1-0) handled Yomiuri, firing six shutout innings in his first start in Japan as Yokohama won at The Big Egg.
Mann scattered five hits, a walk and a hit batter, while fanning a pair as Yokohama won for the second straight night, surviving pinch-hitter Hayato Sakamoto’s grand slam -- the third of his career.
LIONS 11, BUFFALOES 6
Hideto Asamura led a trio of starters with three hits, driving in three, and Jose Fernandez knocked in a pair of runs as Seibu rallied from a late deficit to beat Orix at home and close the gap behind the Buffaloes to four games.
Mitsutaka Goto doubled and homered to reach base for the 43rd consecutive game.
EAGLES 3, FIGHTERS 1
Yu Darvish (17-6) allowed double digits in hits for the first time since Aug. 13 last year, one of them sixth-year pro Ginji Akaminai’s sixth career hit and first RBI.
Akihisa Makida drove in two for the Eagles.
The Hawks and Marines were rained out.