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Crashing out …

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Crashing out …
Playoff hopes fade as Eagles fall again

TOKOROZAWA , Saitama―The Tohoku Rakuten Eagles are starting to look like dead ducks in the playoff race.

They sent Japan ERA leader and ace Masahiro Tanaka to the mound at Seibu Dome on Saturday but came away with a 4-2 loss.

Tanaka (15-5) tossed a complete game, but got knocked around for a career-worst-tying 13 hits. He still had good enough stuff to fan 11 but walked three.

The Eagles, who were in third place earlier this month and flying toward the playoffs, lost for the eighth time in September by falling behind early and never getting their bearings.

They dropped three games behind the third-place Orix Buffaloes and are just one game ahead of fifth-place Seibu in the race for the Pacific League's third and final playoff spot.

Seibu staked starter Takayuki Kishi (6-7) to a 3-0 lead after two innings, and he nearly gave it away in the third. But he worked out of a jam, surrendering two runs, and completed eight strong innings to earn the victory. He yielded seven hits, while fanning seven and walking two.

Takuya Hara doubled twice and drove in two big runs in the second when his two-out drive to right bounced in and out of a leaping Akihisa Makida’s glove.

FIGHTERS 1, HAWKS 1

Nobuhiro Matuda’s RBI triple in the ninth off Nippon Ham ace Yu Darvish pulled SoftBank even and neither team could score in two extra frames at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome.

The Hawks’ magic number to win the PL is 17.

BUFFALOES 3, MARINES 2

Aarom Baldiris, who drove home Orix’s second run with an RBI double in the sixth, belted a tiebreaking solo in the eighth as the third-place Buffaloes edged Lotte at QVC Marine Field.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

BAYSTARS 2, SWALLOWS 2

Shingo Kawabata knocked in both Yakult runs with a pair of RBI doubles, the second pulling it even with Yokohama in the sixth as the teams played to a nine-inning tie at Koshien.

It was Yakult’s 15th tie of the season, the most since the Swallows had 16 in 1981.

DRAGONS 3, GIANTS 1

Motonobu Tanishige homered twice in one game for the first time in more than two seasons, and Maximo Nelson (8-13) held Yomiuri to a run over seven innings as Chunichi won at Tokyo Dome.

Set-up man Takuya Asao worked 1.1 innings for his NPB record 155th hold point, surpassing former Hanshin hurler Jeff Williams, and Hitoki Iwase closed it out for his 29th save.

CARP 5, TIGERS 1

Brian Barden had two doubles and drove in a run, and Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda locked down Hanshin at The Zoom.
Kenta Maeda (9-9) tossed 7.1 shutout frames to help the fifth-place Carp halt a five-game skid.



[Edited by: jgibson on Sep 18, 2011 7:37 AM]

[Edited by: jgibson on Sep 18, 2011 7:41 AM]
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