Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Dragons eye pennant as postseason approaches

AP , TOKYO

Mitsunobu Takahashi connected for a three-run homer yesterday as the Chunichi Dragons moved a step closer to the Central League pennant with a 5-3 win over the Yokohama BayStars.

Takahashi's homer off Yokohama reliever Hiroshi Yamada in the sixth inning at Yokohama Stadium gave the Dragons a four-run lead.

Chunichi starter Daisuke Yamai picked up the win after holding the BayStars to one run on six hits over 5-1/3 innings.

With the victory, the Dragons opened up a comfortable seven-game lead over the Swallows in the standings and are poised to claim their first pennant since 1999.

Their magic number to clinch the pennant is four if the two games lost to last weekend's strike are not included. If Japan professional baseball rules that the two games must be played, Chunichi's magic number is six.

At Hiroshima Stadium, Takahiro Arai drove in a pair of runs to lead the Hiroshima Carp to a 6-3 win over the Yakult Swallows.

Hiroshima starter Yasuhiro Oyamada picked up the win after holding the Swallows to three runs on eight hits over seven innings. Kan Otake worked the ninth for the save.

Ken Suzuki and Atsuya Furuta had solo homers for the Swallows, who saw their chances of staging a late-season comeback all but dashed with yesterday's loss.

Shinji Takahashi and Angel Echevarria both hit two-run homers Friday as the Nippon Ham Fighters moved a step closer to the Pacific League playoffs with a 7-4 win over the Orix BlueWave.

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