Alex Ramirez and Yoshinobu Takahashi each hit solo home runs to back the solid pitching of Dicky Gonzalez on Oct. 15 at Tokyo Dome as the Yomiuri Giants kept the Chunichi Dragons a win away from clinching the Central League pennant.
Ramirez and Takahashi went deep in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, off Chunichi left-hander Chen Wei-yin as Yomiuri scored a 4-1 victory over its CL rivals from Nagoya. Hisayoshi Chono and pinch-hitter Kenji Yano each doubled in a run in the eighth inning off Chen.
"If they want to win a championship they're going to have to play hard against us," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez limited the Dragons to no runs on just one hit through seven innings of work.
The result, coupled with the second-place Yakult Swallows' 3-1 win earlier in the day over the BayStars in Yokohama, means the Dragons still have a magic number of one to clinch their ninth CL title overall and their second straight.
Giants starter Gonzalez outdueled Chunichi's Chen to get his third win of the season in his 13th start. The burly right-hander from Puerto Rico threw 90 pitches through his seven stellar innings before Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara brought in reliever Daisuke Ochi to pitch a scoreless eighth. Tetsuya Yamaguchi got the first out of the ninth before Yuya Kubo came in to finish it off, but not before giving up a pinch-hit home run to veteran Takahiro Saeki.
Chen (8-9) took the loss, giving up four runs on nine hits through eight innings.
Chono went 2-for-4 on the night, bumping his batting average up to .317. He is locked in a tight race for the CL batting title with Matt Murton of the Hanshin Tigers.
The Dragons will get another chance to seal the deal on Oct. 16, also at Tokyo Dome against the Giants. The Swallows have the day off.
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