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Norihiro Nakamura homered twice and had three RBIs and Tuffy Rhodes belted his league-leading 13th home run of the season as the Kintetsu Buffaloes downed the Daiei Hawks 7-3 and moved into first place in the Pacific League on Monday.

Up 2-0 in the third, Nakamura slammed a two-run blast off rookie Nagisa Arakaki (2-5) followed by Rhodes career 250th homer in the fifth to stretch the lead 5-1. Arakaki allowed five runs on six hits in a career-worst four innings in taking the loss. Nakamura hit his eighth shot in the seventh.

Shinichi Kato (2-0) surrendered two runs in five innings while walking two and hitting a batter but got his second win in four games. Daiei stranded 10 runners and fell into third in the PL standings, despite serving up 13 hits compared with 10 for the visitors.

Lions 8, BlueWave 0

At Yahoo BB Stadium, Fumiya Nishiguchi combined with two relievers on a three-hitter and Hiroyuki Oshima, Scott McClain, Hiroshi Hirao and Kazuo Matsui each homered to highlight a 16-hit attack as Seibu blanked Orix for its third straight win.

Marines 8, Fighters 1

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Kazuya Fukuura and Rick Short drove in two runs apiece and Lotte produced 10 hits to overcome a one-run deficit to support Shingo Ono in his first complete game of the season as the Marines beat Nippon Ham.

Mallette packs bags

OSAKA (Kyodo) Kintetsu Buffaloes right-hander Brian Mallette, who damaged ligaments in his right knee in a game against the Nippon Ham Fighters, will return to the United States for treatment on Tuesday, officials of the Pacific League club said Monday.

Mallette, a former major leaguer with the Milwaukee Brewers who joined the Buffaloes midseason, complained of pain in his knee after his fourth game on May 4.

He had been tuning up with a minor league team but decided to return to Los Angeles for treatment on the knee after discussing the matter with the Kintetsu pitching staff.

Club officials said they are unsure when Mallette will return to Japan.

Kuroki to take mound

Chiba Lotte Marines right-hander Tomohiro Kuroki, who is aiming to return from a shoulder injury, could possibly pitch in a minor league game at the end of the month — making his first appearance in a game in nearly two years.

Officials of the Pacific League club said Kuroki may pitch on May 24 or May 25 in a minor league game against the Nippon Ham Fighters in the eastern league, making it his first mound appearance since an outing with the top team against the Orix BlueWave on July 27, 2001.

“In May we have a lot of road games and it’s probably better that he pitch in home games, considering this is the environment where he practices,” said Nobuyuki Sasaki, the manager for the minor league team.

Kuroki, who is expected to have a short outing in one of the games at Lotte Urawa Stadium, is a three-time All Star who had double-digit wins from 1997 to 2001.

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