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Baseball: Rakuten’s Tanaka wins 3rd straight monthly MVP

Kyodo

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka became the first player to win the Pacific League’s monthly MVP award for the third straight month Tuesday.

Tanaka, widely believed to be Japan’s next big export to the majors this offseason, won the honor for a career 10th time, tying the record held by New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

The 24-year-old Tanaka won all four starts in July, including three complete games with an ERA of 0.77 in the midst of a career season for the first-place Eagles.

He is 15-0 on the year, and also leads the league in ERA (1.259) and innings pitched.

Seibu Lions infielder Hideto Asamura was named the PL’s top position player in July, with a league-leading .395 clip and six home runs.

In the Central League, the Hanshin Tigers’ Randy Messenger won the honor for his first time after going 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA and 33 strikeouts. Messenger is the third consecutive Tigers pitcher to win the award.

Yomiuri Giants third baseman Shuichi Murata was the best hitter, batting .406 with four homers and 20 RBIs.