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Swallowed up …

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Swallowed up …

Birds cruise past Dragons in early CL showdown

Three of their six runs came home on two-out hits and rookie Yuki Shichijo earned his second win against a big-name team as the Yakult Swallows topped the Chunichi Dragons 6-4 on Tuesday at Jingo Stadium.

Shichijo (2-1), who beat the Giants for his first pro win, took some lumps but lasted the minimum five innings to get the decision as the Swallows increased their lead over the second-place Dragons to five games.

Yakult improved to 6-1 vs. Chunichi this season, but all the wins have come at home. They have 11 second-half dates with the Dragons at Nagoya Dome.

Shingo Kawabata doubled in two runs in the second and singled home another run in the fifth to back Shichijo.

Norichika Aoki also had an RBI infield hit, beating Chunichi starter Maximo Nelson to first in the process, and added a double in the fourth as the Swallows built a 5-2 lead.

Four Swallows relievers each fired a scoreless inning, with Lim Chang Yang nailing down his 18th save with a scoreless ninth.


Craig Brazell’s RBI single in the sixth tied the score and Takahiro Arai plated the go-ahead run with a hit as Hanshin edged Yomiuri at Koshien Stadium on skipper Akinobu Mayumi’s 58th birthday.

Kyuji Fujikawa allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to get into scoring position with one out before fanning Shinnosuke Abe and new addition Josh Fields to end the game. Jason Standridge (7-2) scattered three hits and three walks for a run over eight innings to win his seventh.


Kenta Kurihara drove in two runs, and Tetsuya Kokubo knocked in three as Hiroshima halted a four-game slide by topping visiting Yokohama.

Dennis Sarfate nailed down his CL-best 19th save after allowing a run in the ninth.



D.J. Houlton (10-3) carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Akinori Iwamura lined a single off shortstop Munenori Kawasaki’s glove, and Hidenori Tanoue and Nobuhiko Matsunaka each homered as SoftBank recorded its Japan-high 14th shutout in topping Rakuten at The Kleenex Box.

Matsunaka had an RBI single in the first and cracked a solo shot, his eighth, in a five-run sixth. Tanoue blasted a three-run shot to cap the rally and back Houlton, who allowed just the one hit while walking three and hitting a batter.


Tadahito Iguchi’s scoring flyball pushed Lotte into the lead and it held on to edge Seibu at The Q.

Yuki Karakawa (8-2) held the Lions to a run over six innings as the Marines escaped despite Seibu’s Takeya Nakamura swatting his Japan-best 25th homer.


Fumihiro Suzuki doubled off Nippon Ham closer Hisashi Takeda with one out in the ninth (and one minute before the no-extra-inning time limit), as Orix earned a tie at Kyocera Dome Osaka.

Brian Wolfe was on the verge of his eighth win after scattering six hits and walk with one hit batter and a half-dozen punchouts over seven scoreless innings, but Takeda couldn’t protect the lead.


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