Baseball: Takanashi sets tone as Swallows hold off Tigers

Hirotoshi Takanashi held the Hanshin Tigers to a run over six innings as the Central League-leading Yakult Swallows won 5-3 Tuesday to continue their recent recovery.

After snapping a seven-game losing skid on Sunday, the Swallows scored four runs by the third inning at Jingu Stadium off Hanshin ace Koyo Aoyagi (12-2). The right-hander still leads the league in wins, but saw his team's own losing skid extend to seven games.

Dominant overall, Takanashi (6-6) struck out nine while allowing three hits and two walks. The Tigers reached third in both the second and fourth innings but failed to score as they were made to wait until a Kento Itohara solo homer in the sixth.

Aoyagi's throwing error contributed to the Swallows loading the bases in the second frame with no outs with the opening run scored on a groundout. Hideki Nagaoka's one-out RBI single plated the second run.

Hiyu Motoyama doubled to open the third for the Swallows and scored on a one-out blooper from Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami. With runners on the corners with two outs, Yuhei Nakamura's sacrifice fly scored Yakult's fourth.

Aoyagi lasted four innings, allowing four runs, three of them earned, on four hits and a walk, tagged with the loss for the first time since May 6.

Former major leaguer Norichika Aoki had a solo shot in the seventh for the Swallows, with the Tigers' two runs in the ninth on a Kairi Shimada single and a Scott McGough wild pitch not impacting the final outcome.

The DeNA BayStars beat the Yomiuri Giants 3-1 to stay seven games behind Yakult, while the Hiroshima Carp won 5-0 against the Chunichi Dragons.

The Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions downed their closest rival SoftBank Hawks 2-0 to move 2-1/2 games clear as Tomoya Mori's two-run homer made the difference.

The Lotte Marines blanked the Orix Buffaloes 4-0 and the Rakuten Eagles came from behind to win 2-1 against the Nippon Ham Fighters.

© Kyodo News