Marines cling to the Pacific League by the closest distance

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The Chiba Lotte Marines maintained their narrow lead in the Pacific League after Takashi Ogino scored a home run in the ninth inning and Naoya Masuda secured a 2-2 draw with runner-up Orix Buffaloes from a tight position on Thursday.

The teams split the three-game series under the motto Field Kobe and left the Buffaloes behind the table leaders with a win percentage of 0.551 to 0.548.

After a run in the ninth race after an outstanding eight innings from Buffaloe’s lefty Daiki Tajima, Ogino brought Orix closer and former major league player Yoshihisa Hirano deep to open the ninth and even the result.

Orix, who had been in first place for most of the summer, had the potential winning streak in second place with a failure but didn’t score.

Adam Jones’ pinch-hit double against PL saves Leader Masuda the door for a rally in the ninth inning. The Buffaloes almost took a walk-off win, but third baseman Ryo Miki impaled a line drive from rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi for the final that kept the Marines in first place.

Lotte’s right-handed Ayumu Ishikawa, who made his first start since his shoulder cleansing operation in June, matched Tajima with zeros for four innings before the Buffaloes opened scoring a Shuhei Fukuda RBI single.

Yutaro Sugimoto’s 24th home run in front of Ishikawa made it 2-0 in the sixth, only for the Marines who came on the board in the seventh.

Tetsuya Kokubo, who was cut off from the Hiroshima Carp last winter and couldn’t find a team until Lotte signed him last week, topped seventh place with his first home run in two seasons.

Tajima allowed three hits and two walks while hitting 10 only to see his chance of winning the ninth on Ogino’s ninth homer of the year fizzle out.

Eagle 4, fighter 0

In the Sapporo Dome, the third-placed Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles advanced to two games on Orix behind an 11-strikeout three-hitter from Takahiro Norimoto (9: 5).

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Carp 12, Dragon 5

At the Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima, carp outfielder Seiya Suzuki came home for the sixth game in a row, just under the Japanese record of seven in a row set by Hall of Famer Sadaharu Oh in 1972 and leveled by Randy Bass in 1986.

Suzuki, who reached his 26th and 27th of the year, scored three runs and drove three.

Swallows 13, tigers 3

At Nishinomiya Koshien Stadium, Jose Osuna and Domingo Santana both drove three runs to lead third-placed Yakult to victory over first-placed Hanshin, a team the Swallows are now 2½ games behind.

BayStars 5, Giants 5

At Yokohama Stadium, Yoshihiro Maru crowned a rally in the ninth inning with an RBI singles when the runner-up Yomiuri drew against DeNA.

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