Baseball: Pennant chasing Tigers beat Giants behind Takahashi shutout


Hanshin Tigers pitcher Haruto Takahashi throws his first career shutout in a 3-0 victory in the Central League against the Yomiuri Giants in the Tokyo Dome on September 25, 2021. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) – The Hanshin Tigers kept up the pressure in Saturday’s Central League pennant race behind Haruto Takahashi’s first career exclusion in a 3-0 win over third-placed Yomiuri Giants.

The Tigers started the day in second place, half a game behind the Yakult Swallows, and drew three full games in front of two-time defending champions Giants. The Tigers have been chasing their first CL pennant since 2005.

Takahashi (2-1) knocked out 13 while going one, allowing five hits, three in the ninth inning, when the left-hander withdrew two experienced hitters to end the game.

“When we finished, I was so happy. After I got into the ninth inning, I didn’t even want to give up a run. I really wanted a shutout,” said Takahashi.

Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (5: 7) kept the Tigers goalless until Kento Itohara’s solo home run in the seventh inning broke the ice. Takahashi single in eighth and scored when the Tigers knocked Sugano out of the game on Takumu Nakano’s two-run one-out RBI single.

“With neither team able to score in the middle of the game, I worked really hard not to let the first run. It was a confidence boost,” said Takahashi.

At Jingu Stadium, Chunichi Dragons right-handed Yariel Rodriguez held the Central League’s strongest offense 7-1 / 3 innings without hits in a goalless duel with the Swallows.

In the sixth inning solo home run at Yokohama Stadium, Tsubasa Aizawa gave the Hiroshima carp the final lead in their 3-2 win over the DeNA BayStars.

At the MetLife Dome, Brandon Laird drove a double home run, his 25th, and led the Lotte Marines, who lead the Pacific League, 3-1 past the Seibu Lions.

At the Kyocera Dome Osaka, Yoshinobu Yamamoto (15-5) allowed two runs while striking nine over eight innings as runner-up Orix Buffaloes beat third-placed Rakuten Eagles 3-2 and remained 2-1 / 2 games behind the Marines.

At the PayPay Dome, Masaki Mimori put fourth-placed SoftBank Hawks in the lead with his two-time second inning single and they held out the win against the Nippon Ham Fighters 4-2.

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