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Murata delivers key hit as Giants down Hawks

The Associated Press

Yoshinori Murata drove in the winning run with a single to left in the top of the ninth Thursday as the last-place Yomiuri Giants downed the Softbank Hawks 5-4 to avoid a three-game sweep.

News photo WIDTH="200" HEIGHT="159"/>Orix Buffaloes starter Jose Parra delivers a pitch against the Yokohama BayStars en route to earning his fourth win of the season on Thursday at Osaka Dome. The Buffs won 6-1.

Murata’s single gave the Giants a 3-2 lead at Yahoo Dome and Takayki Shimizu made it 5-2 with a bases-loaded single to center.

Yomiuri starter Kimiyasu Kudo survived a shaky ninth inning when he gave up two runs, but held on to pick up the win.

Tomohiro Nioka hit a rare inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning.

Swallows 9, Eagles 0

At Fullcast Stadium, Ryo Kawashima struck out 10 and tossed a two-hitter over the distance as Yakult blanked Rakuten.

Yuichi Matsumoto went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs for the Swallows, who have won nine of their last 10 games.

Tigers 5, Lions 3

At Koshien Stadium, Kei Igawa gave up two runs on five hits over seven innings to lead Hanshin over Seibu.

Osamu Hamanaka drove in a pair of runs with a single to right in the fourth inning when the Tigers scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead.

Buffaloes 6, BayStars 1

At Osaka Dome, Cliff Brumbaugh homered and drove in a pair of runs to lead Orix past Yokohama.

Brumbaugh singled in a run in the first inning and connected for a solo homer in the fourth to give the Buffaloes a 2-0 lead.

Marines 9, Carp 1

At Hiroshima Stadium, rookie Yasutomo Kubo gave up one on four hits over the distance as Pacific League-leading Chiba Lotte downed Hiroshima.

Fighters 9, Dragons 4

At Sapporo Dome, Kuniyuki Kimoto hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to power Nippon Ham over Chunichi.

Easy day for Japan

MIYAZAKI (AP) Tsutomu Takanezawa drove in a pair of runs Thursday to lead Japan’s national team to a 7-0 win over the Philippines on the opening day of the Asian Championship.

Right-hander Kentaro Takasaki picked up the win after holding the Philippines batters hitless over six scoreless innings at Sun Marine Stadium.

In Thursday’s other game, Taiwan cruised to a 12-0 win over Thailand in a game that was called after seven innings.