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Baseball: Giants tie up 2nd straight Central League pennant

Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara is tossed in the air by his players after the Giants clinched their second consecutive Central League title on Oct. 30, 2020, at Tokyo Dome. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Yomiuri Giants captured their second straight Central League pennant on Friday after they finished in a 3-3 10-inning tie with the Yakult Swallows.

    The Giants entered the day with a magic number of one to clinch and only needed a tie after the second-place Hanshin Tigers blew a ninth-inning lead and also finished in a 3-3 tie. Manager Tatsunori Hara's men began celebrating after Brazilian reliever Thyago Vieira stranded the potential go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning at Tokyo Dome.

    The hosts loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth but were unable to score against Swallows right-hander Scott McGough.

    Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto, the team's 31-year-old captain, had one hit, moving him to within four of Japan's iconic 2,000-hit milestone.

    "I feel joy for being able to play baseball," he said. "So many people have helped me get to this achievement of winning two straight championships."

    A third-inning home run exchange put the Giants up 2-1 on cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto's league-leading 28th homer. Taishi Hirooka opened the scoring in the top of the inning with his fifth home run and tied it in the fifth. Hirooka drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Yasutaka Shiomi's two-out single.

    Swallows right-hander Hiroaki Saiuchi worked 5-2/3 innings. He pitched out of trouble in the fourth but gave away the lead in the sixth when Yoshihiro Maru doubled and scored on Takumi Oshiro's two-out single.

    The Giants then loaded the bases against rookie lefty Naruki Terashima but could not push across another run.

    Giants starter Nobutaka Imamura allowed two runs over six innings. The Swallows loaded the bases with one out in the seventh but failed to score until the eighth. Yuhei Takanashi hit the leadoff man and Alcides Escobar tripled with two outs off closer Rubby De La Rosa.

    At Yokohama Stadium, Jose Lopez tied it with his 10th home run, and his 999th hit in Japan as the DeNA BayStars came back to tie the Hanshin Tigers 3-3 in 10 innings.

    At Nagoya Dome, rookie Minoru Omuri tripled in two runs, breaking a seventh-inning tie before the Hiroshima Carp cruised to a 17-3 bruising of the Chunichi Dragons.

    In the Pacific League, Nao Higashihama (9-1) threw eight scoreless innings to earn the win as the SoftBank Hawks held off the Seibu Lions 4-3 at MetLife Dome.

    At Chiba's Zozo Marine Stadium, Hideto Asamura drew a one-out walk in the eighth and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch, lifting the Rakuten Eagles to a 2-1 win over the Lotte Marines, who remain one game ahead of the third-place Lions in the fight for the PL's final playoff spot.

    At Sapporo Dome, Taisuke Yamaoka (4-5) struck out eight over the distance for the Orix Buffaloes in a 3-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

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