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Tanaka nears strikeout record, finishes with 18

Kyodo

Masahiro Tanaka struck out 18 batters, the second most in a game in Japanese baseball history, as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles topped the Fukuoka SoftbankHawks 5-0 on Saturday.

Rakuten extended its winning streak to a club record-tying seven games.

Tanaka (13-4) scattered six hits and walked one in his third shutout of the season, lowering his baseball-best ERA to 1.40.

“I knew I had 15 strikeouts through eight innings,” Tanaka said. “So in the ninth, I went all out to strike out three more.”

Former Orix BlueWave right-hander Koji Noda recorded 19 strikeouts against the Lotte Marines on April 21, 1995.

The Eagles roughed up Toshiya Sugiuchi (7-5) for five runs in three innings. Kazuo Matsui went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

Fighters 4, Lions 3

At Seibu Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham rookie Yuki Saito earned his fifth win with 7⅓ effective innings against Seibu.

Saito (5-2) had a shutout intact until Takeya Nakamura hit his baseball-leading 33rd home run with two men on in the eighth to pull the Lions within a run.

The 23-year-old right-hander gave up three runs on nine hits in the longest outing of his rookie season. He walked one and struck out four.

Marines 3, Buffaloes 1

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Shunsuke Watanabe limited the damage to one run over six innings, Tadahito Iguchi drove in two runs and Chiba Lotte beat Orix to snap a four-game losing streak.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Giants 2, Carp 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hisayoshi Chono broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI triple in the eighth inning as Yomiuri rallied to beat Hiroshima.

Shun Tono (6-8) allowed one unearned run in seven innings for the win. Shinnosuke Abe delivered a game-tying double in the seventh.

Takeru Imamura (2-5) took the loss.

Dragons 3, BayStars 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Kazuki Yoshimi (11-3) threw his first shutout of the season, leading Chunichi over Yokohama.

Yuki Kuniyoshi (0-1) gave up two runs in five innings in his professional debut.

Swallows at Tigers — ppd.