SAPPORO (Kyodo) — The Nippon Ham Fighters’ magic number is down to three after they beat the Rakuten Eagles 2-1 in 11 innings and the second-place Softbank Hawks lost 7-5 to the Seibu Lions on Sunday.
The Fighters won their record 84th game of the season with their eighth walk-off victory of the year at Sapporo Dome, thanks to Rakuten reliever Hiroyuki Fukuyama’s (4-5) two-out wild pitch that scored Shohei Otani from third.
Otani also had a game-tying RBI single in the eighth for one of his three hits on the afternoon. Yohei Kagiya (5-3) pitched the 11th to pick up the win.
Nippon Ham, now two games up on Softbank despite being 11.5 games out of first place at one point, could win the Pacific League pennant as early as Tuesday.
“We’re putting everything on the line right now,” said Otani, who surpassed 100 hits for the season this day. “Every day is incredibly rewarding. It’s important to try to win, one game at a time.”
The Eagles wasted a solid effort from their pitching corps including 20-year-old right-hander Tomohiro Anraku, who fanned seven and scattered five hits in seven shutout innings.
Lions 7, Hawks 5
At Seibu Prince Dome, Rick van den Hurk (7-2) suffered his second defeat of the season at a bad time, the Softbank hurler giving up six earned runs in five innings against Seibu, despite striking out 11.
Buffaloes 2, Marines 0
At QVC Marine Field, Nobuyoshi Yamada (2-7) and three Lotte relievers combined to shut out Orix, which halted a two-game skid.
Tigers 4, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Yuta Iwasada (9-9) pitched six scoreless innings and Hiroki Uemoto drove in three runs for Hanshin, which won its fourth straight.
Chunichi lost its fourth in a row, and will finish the season last in the CL for the first time in 19 years.