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Strong start for Rakuten rookie Matsuzaki in exhibition

Kyodo

Rookie left-hander Shingo Matsuzaki pitched six strong innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Lotte Marines 5-2 in a preseason game Saturday.

Matsuzaki allowed two runs — one earned — and seven hits with five strikeouts and three walks at Chiba Marine Stadium in an outing expected to earn him a spot in the Eagles’ starting rotation.

Lotte right-hander Yasutomo Kubo was roughed up for five runs and seven hits in 5-1/3 innings. Lotte cleanup hitter Saburo Omura went 2-for-2 with an RBI single.

Hawks 5, Giants 4

Kazumi Saito, a key Softbank starter, matched Yomiuri right-hander Takahiko Nomaguchi in a shaky five-inning stint by giving up four runs in five innings at Tokyo Dome. Yomiuri outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi returned to action and had an RBI grounder in his pinch-hit appearance after undergoing ankle surgery in December.

Tigers 5, Carp 3

Pinch-hitter Atsushi Kataoka hit a two-run walkoff homer with two outs in the ninth for Hanshin in Takamatsu. Kenta Kurihara hit his fifth homer of the spring and Shigenobu Shima went 2-for-2 with a two-run homer for Hiroshima, improving his average to .483, the best in the preseason.

Fighters 3, Dragons 2

Tsuyoshi Shinjo hit a three-run double in the first inning and right-hander Satoru Kanemura threw six shutout innings for Nippon Ham. Chunichi right-hander Kenshin Kawakami allowed three runs and six hits in six innings at Sapporo Dome.

BayStars 5, Lions 1

Probable Yokohama opening-day starter Daisuke Miura held Seibu to one run in seven innings while allowing seven hits and a walk. Seibu rookie catcher Ginjiro Sumitani homered off Miura among his two hits at Yokohama Stadium.

Swallows 2, Buffaloes 2 (9)

Orix right-hander Hidetaka Kawagoe allowed one run and seven hits in 6-2/3 innings, while Yakult lefty Shugo Fujii yielded two runs in five innings at Jingu Stadium. Greg Larocca homered for Hiroshima and Yakult hit into four double plays.