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Baseball: Nishi, Tigers hold off Carp, close on third place

Yuki Nishi of the Hanshin Tigers pitches against the Hiroshima Carp in a Central League game on July 6, 2022, at Koshien Stadium outside Osaka, western Japan. (Kyodo)

NISHINOMIYA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Yuki Nishi allowed two runs over 6-1/3 innings and three relievers completed the two-hitter as the Hanshin Tigers held off the Hiroshima Carp 3-2 in the Central League on Wednesday.

    The win at historic Koshien Stadium outside Osaka moved the fourth-place Tigers to within one game of the third-place Carp, while Hanshin center fielder Koji Chikamoto inched closer to Japan's record for consecutive games with a hit.

    The only blemish on Nishi's night came in the second inning. After the Carp leadoff man reached on an error, Shogo Sakakura belted his eighth home run for a 2-0 Hiroshima lead.

    Nishi (5-6) allowed two hits, struck out two and walked one, and his teammates gave him the lead in the fourth against Carp starter Hiroki Tokoda (7-5).

    Tokoda cruised through 3-2/3 innings before Chikamoto singled to extend his hitting streak to 30 games, tying the team record set in 2011 by Matt Murton and moving within three of Japan's pro record, set by Yoshihiko Takahashi in 1979.

    A single and a walk loaded the bases to set up Fumiya Hojo's two-run RBI single and Yasuhiro Yamamoto's tie-breaking single.

    Yuta Watanabe got the last two outs in the seventh before perfect scoreless innings from Atsuki Yuasa, and closer Suguru Iwazaki ended it.

    The DeNA BayStars beat the last-place Chunichi Dragons 3-1 to remain a half-game back of Hanshin, while the league-leading Yakult Swallows lost 4-3 in 10 innings to the second-place Yomiuri Giants.

    The Giants, who now trail by 11-1/2 games, became the first team to win a series against the Swallows since the Dragons took two out of three from them in early May.

    In the Pacific League, the fourth-place Lotte Marines beat the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters 5-4, while the Seibu Lions beat the Orix Buffaloes in 11 innings, also 5-4.

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