Buffaloes beat Marines, cutting magic number to 2

Orix Buffaloes starter Kohei Azuma threw seven innings of one-run ball as the reigning Japan Series champions inched closer to a third straight Pacific League pennant with a 3-2 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Tuesday.

The PL leaders extended their margin over the second-place Marines to 13.5 games and cut their magic number to two with a third win in a row at Kyocera Dome Osaka.

Azuma (6-0) struck out five while allowing the solitary run on five hits, one walk and a hit batsman.

The Buffaloes plated two runs against Lotte starter Kazuya Ojima (8-5) in the first, taking the lead on Marwin Gonzalez’s bases-loaded groundout and extending it on Yutaro Sugimoto’s double.

The Marines cut it to 2-1 on Yudai Fujioka’s RBI double in the third before Orix pushed the lead back to two on Leandro Cedeno’s RBI with one out and two on in the sixth.

Orix closer Yoshihisa Hirano gave up a ninth-inning homer to Hisanori Yasuda before getting the last two outs for his 26th save.

Elsewhere in the PL, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles beat the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 3-2, while the Seibu Lions were 7-4 winners against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. There were no Central League games Tuesday.