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Eagles ace Tanaka improves to 18-0

Kyodo

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka won his 22nd consecutive decision Friday, extending his own Japanese pro baseball record dating back to Aug. 26, 2012.

Tanaka, 24, improved to 18-0 on the season after pitching seven shutout innings to open Pacific League leader Rakuten’s series against the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines at Kleenex Stadium.

The Eagles snapped a season-worst five-game losing skid in the 5-0 win.

Hiroaki Shimauchi broke a scoreless tie with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly and Lotte fell 3 1/2 games behind Rakuten.

Fighters 5, Buffaloes 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, rookie Shohei Otani (3-0) allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings and struck out nine as Hokkaido Nippon Ham defeated Orix to win its fourth straight game.

Yang Dai-kang tied the game 1-1 with his 16th home run in the fourth inning and put the visitors up for good with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Hawks at Lions — ppd.

CENTRAL LEAGUE


BayStars 11, Giants 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Takayuki Kajitani drove in six runs on Friday as Yokohama whipped Yomiuri, sending the Central League leader to its third straight loss.

Kajitani went 4-for-5 with a stolen base. He broke the ice with a two-run double in the third, gave his team a cushion in the sixth with his sixth home run in seven games, and helped put the icing on the cake with a run-scoring infield single in the eighth.

“I’ve been working hard not to get myself out early in counts on breaking balls and changeups the way I did so often last year,” Kajitani said. “I’m also trying to limit the mental ups and downs and those things are paying off — that and the fact that I was born in the summer and people say this is my time of year.”

The Giants saw their lead over the second-place Hanshin Tigers trimmed to five games.

Kajitani’s double was the BayStars’ first hit off Giants starter D.J. Houlton (4-4). The right-hander stranded Kajitani at second with two outs, and John Bowker blasted his 12th homer to tie it 2-2 in the top of the fourth off rookie All-Star Kazuki Mishima.

The BayStars’ second hit also lit up the scoreboard. With one out and none on in the bottom of the fourth, Norihiro Nakamura belted a high slider out to left-center for his 14th home run.

Houlton allowed three runs on four hits and three walks before being pulled for a pinch hitter after five innings. The right-hander, who struggled after retiring the first six batters he faced, struck out two.

Carp 6, Swallows 2

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yusuke Nomura (8-4) allowed two runs in eight innings, and Eishin Soyogi highlighted a five-run third with a three-run home run as Hiroshima downed Tokyo Yakult.

Wladimir Balentien accounted for the Swallows’ first hit and run, with his Japan-best 47th homer. It was Balentien’s fifth home run in three games and 13th this month.

Tigers 7, Dragons 2

At Nagoya Dome, five relievers supplied one scoreless inning apiece as Hanshin overturned a two-run deficit with a five-run sixth to defeat Chunichi.

Back-to-back, sixth-inning RBI doubles by Kosuke Fukudome and Ryota Arai put the Tigers ahead for good.