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Pinch hitter Kiyoshi Hatsushiba doubled home two runs to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh as the Chiba Lotte Marines edged the Seibu Lions 5-4 at Seibu Dome on Wednesday.

Lefty Takashi Kawai (2-0) picked up the win, pitching 1-1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while closer Masahide Kobayashi worked the ninth, striking out two for his 13th save.

Trailing the Marines 3-1 in the sixth, the Lions tied the game on back-to-back solo homers by Alex Cabrera and Kazuhiro Wada.

Buffaloes 3, Fighters 1

Ken Kadokura (3-0) combined with Toyohiko Yoshida on a four-hitter for the win as Kintetsu beat Nippon Ham at Tokyo Dome.

Kadokura gave up one run on three hits while fanning nine batters over eight innings. Yoshida pitched the ninth and earned his third save.

Hawks 5, BlueWave 4

Tadahito Iguchi and Munenori Kawasaki had three hits each to lead league-leading Daiei past Orix at Fukuoka Dome.

Daiei starter Kazumi Saito (7-2) gave up four runs on six hits over six innings for the win and Matt Skrmetta worked the ninth for his 11th save.

BlueWave starter Mac Suzuki (0-2) was tagged with the loss, allowing five runs over 1-2/3 innings.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 5, Dragons 2

Atsushi Kataoka nailed an RBI single in a four-run second and solo homered in the sixth to lead red-hot Hanshin over Chunichi at Koshien Stadium.

It was Hanshin’s team record-tying ninth straight win at Koshien.

The Tigers are now eight games ahead of second-place Yomiuri.

Keiichi Yabu (5-2) held the Dragons to two runs on seven hits over seven innings for the win, and closer Jeff Williams worked the ninth and notched his 17th save.

Carp 6, Giants 2

Andy Sheets sparked a go-ahead four-run eighth with an RBI double as Hiroshima sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning en route to downing Yomiuri at Hiroshima stadium, putting a halt to its losing skid at six.

Chris Brock (3-5) picked up the win, giving up two runs — none earned — on five hits over eight innings while striking out five.

Giants lefty Gary Rath (2-1) took the loss, allowing six earned runs over 7-1/3 innings. Rath balked three times, tying the Japanese Pro Ball record for most balks in a game.

Swallows at BayStars — ppd.

Irabu named MVP

The Associated Press

Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was named the Central League’s MVP for May, league officials said Wednesday.

Irabu went 3-1 in five games for the league-leading Hanshin Tigers and posted a 1.46 ERA. Overall, Irabu has a 6-1 record with a 2.34 ERA in 10 games this season.

It was the first time Irabu was named a monthly MVP in Japan since August 1996 when he played for the Pacific League’s Chiba Lotte Marines.

The league also named Yokohama BayStars slugger Tyrone Woods as its position player of the month.

Woods, who played in the Korean League last season, belted 10 homers and drove in 23 runs in May. He leads the Central League with 18 homers.

Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who went 3-0, picked up Pacific League honors along with Nippon Ham Fighters infielder Michihiro Ogasawara, who batted .413 and drove in 22 runs in May.

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