The Yomiuri Giants are showing a little bit of late-season magic as they march toward their third consecutive Central League title.
Hisayoshi Chono doubled in two runs with two outs in the eighth inning as the Giants outlasted Guillermo Moscoso to blank the Yokohama DeNA BayStars 2-0 on Saturday at Tokyo Dome for their fifth consecutive win.
The effort made Yomiuri 9-2 this month, and dropped its magic number to win the league title to 13. The second-place Hiroshima Carp battered the Hanshin Tigers 17-5 to remain five games behind the Giants in the standings.
Yomiuri starter Yuki Koyama got no decision after handcuffing the BayStars on five hits over seven scoreless innings, and Moscoso (8-8) was saddled with the loss despite carrying a shutout two outs into the eighth inning.
But he gave up a double to Yasuyuki Kataoka and walked Hirokazu Ibata to bring up Chono, who sent a shot to the wall in center to plate both runners.
“We wanted to score earlier in the game, but we couldn’t, so sorry about that,” Chono said to Koyama during the on-field postgame interview.
“Yasu [Kataoka] and Ibata set up a chance to score after two were out, so I went into the batter’s box wanting to do whatever I could to get a run home,” Chono said about his only hit in four at-bats.
Scott Mathieson worked the ninth inning, retiring the side in order to collect his 26th save. Kentaro Nishimura (4-4) walked one but threw a scoreless eighth inning for the victory.
Mosco allowed two runs on just four hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Hiroshima rookie right-hander Daichi Osera (9-6) tossed eight strong innings, while Shota Dobayashi homered twice and drove in three, and Rainel Rosario had three hits, including a pair of RBI singles, in a rout at Koshien Stadium over third-place Hanshin.
Meanwhile, in Pacific League action at Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham two-play star Shohei Otani (11-4) fired a five-hitter as the third-place Fighters blanked the second-place Orix Buffaloes 1-0. Otani walked two and struck out nine.