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Tigers send punchless Giants to sixth loss in seven games

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The Hanshin Tigers had Tokyo Dome rocking on Friday night.

Literally.

The Tigers hit two fourth-inning home runs, which were followed by an earthquake that shook the Kanto area and was felt in the Big Egg. The long balls helped Hanshin back a strong performance from starter Yuya Ando in a 6-1 victory over the Yomiuri Giants in front of a crowd of 42,412, which included Yomiuri legend Shigeo Nagashima.

Makoto Imaoka and Lew Ford homered in the fourth to help the Tigers (6-1) rub salt in the wounds of their struggling rivals, who fell to 1-6. Takashi Toritani also homered, hitting a solo shot in the seventh off reliever Masafumi Togano.

“We won tonight with the home-run power from Ford, Imaoka and Toritani and nice pitching by Ando,” Hanshin manager Akinobu Okada said. “He wanted to pitch until the end but he gave us seven good innings, so I’m happy with his performance.”

Ford finished 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs to lead Hanshin’s 11-hit attack. The former Minnesota Twins outfielder entered the game batting .158 in Hanshin’s previous six games.

“The team had been playing well, but I wasn’t happy with the way I had been playing,” Ford said. “So it feels good to be able to help the team out.”

Left fielder Tomoaki Kanemoto went 1-for-4 to inch closer to his 2,000th career hit. Kanemoto is three hits away from joining Nagashima in the “Meikyukai,” or Golden Players Club, reserved for batters with 2,000 hits and pitchers with 200 wins or 250 saves.

Even with Nagashima’s jersey hanging in their dugout, the Giants were unable to match the success they had against Chunichi Dragons ace Kenshin Kawakami on the previous night.

Yomiuri hit three seventh-inning homers against Kawakami on Thursday, but managed just four hits against Ando. After giving up a leadoff homer to Yoshinobu Takahashi and a single to Alex Ramirez, both in the first inning, Ando didn’t allow another hit until Yoshiyuki Kamei’s single in the sixth.

With the exception of their game against the Dragons, the Giants have struggled to score runs and have been outscored 40-17 in seven games this season.

“I thought our hitters would do better tonight after those three consecutive home runs last night,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “But we just could not get it going.”

Yomiuri starter Hisanori Takahashi continued his rough start to the season, giving up five runs on eight hits before being relieved after allowing a pair of base runners in the sixth. Takahashi (0-2), who also gave up five runs against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in the season opener, has given up nine runs in nine innings in his two starts this year.

The Giants looked primed for another rally with runners on first and second with one out in the sixth. Then Ando got Ramirez to hit into a fielder’s choice before striking out Lee Seung Yeop to end the inning.

Ando (2-0) earned the win after allowing one run on four hits in seven innings.

Swallows triumph

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Adam Riggs and Aaron Guiel homered to back a solid outing by 20-year-old lefty Kyohei Muranaka as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows beat the Chunichi Dragons 6-1 on Friday for their sixth win in seven games this season.

Yakult took a 4-0 lead on Riggs’ solo shot in the second inning and Guiel’s three-run blast in the third, both off Kenta Asakura (1-1). Guiel also had an RBI double in the ninth at Nagoya Dome.

Muranaka (1-0) earned his first career win after holding Chunichi to one run and three hits in seven innings with three walks and eight strikeouts.

BayStars 2, Carp 1

At Hiroshima Stadium, Hayato Terahara threw eight innings of one-run ball in a pitching duel with Kan Otake as Yokohama held off the hosts.

Tatsuhiko Kinjo broke a scoreless tie in the top of the eighth with a two-out RBI single and Takahiro Saeki added a run-scoring single to make it 2-0 in the same frame.

Terahara (1-1) struck out nine and allowed seven hits with a walk, while Otake (0-1) allowed two unearned runs over eight innings. Matt White got the final two outs for his first save.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Lions 4, Eagles 2

At Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, Kazuyuki Hoashi pitched seven effective innings and Kenta Matsusaka drove in two runs as Seibu snapped Tohoku Rakuten’s club-record winning streak at seven games.

Rakuten got on the scoreboard first on Daisuke Kusano’s run-scoring single in the first, but Toru Hosokawa hit an RBI single to tie it at 1-1 in the second.

Fighters 3, Buffaloes 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hichori Morimoto hit a bases-clearing triple to spark Hokkaido Nippon Ham with two out in the second inning, and Mike Sweeney combined with four relievers to hold off Orix.

Marines 6, Hawks 3