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Scott McClain hit a pair of two-run homers in consecutive at-bats and Daisuke Matsuzaka kept batters off-balance with a nasty heater to post his league-high ninth win as the Seibu Lions won their fourth straight with a 5-1 victory over the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Pacific League on Monday.

McClain, who had been in an 0-21 slump since his last hit on June 6, connected off Chris Seelbach (2-8) in the second and fourth innings at Tokyo Dome to record his 14th and 15th homers of the season.

Matsuzaka (9-1) scuttled his opponents with fastballs up in the 150-kph range, allowing one run and four hits with six strikeouts and three walks in seven innings of work.

Buffaloes 2, Marines 1 (10)

At Osaka Dome, Naoyuki Omura singled in the game-winning run off Brian Sikorski (2-4) in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving Kintetsu a “sayonara” win over Lotte to halt a four-game losing skid.

Koichi Isobe led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a Tadatoki Maeda bunt to set up Omura’s one-out single to end it.

Toyohiko Yoshida (3-0), the third pitcher for Kintetsu, struck out two in the top of the 10th for the win.

Lotte, which tied the game 1-all on a solo homer by Koichi Hori in the seventh, dropped its fourth straight.

Giants waive Pedraza

Yomiuri Giants right-hander Rodney Pedraza, who has returned to the United States to treat an injured right shoulder, was released on unconditional waivers on Monday.

Pedraza, a four-time All-Star reliever who tallied 117 career saves for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks before moving to the Giants on a one-year deal in 2003, was just 1-1 with a bloated 12.00 ERA in seven games before injuring his shoulder.

Yomiuri decided to terminate his services after doctors in the U.S. said Pedraza will require surgery and at least six months of rehabilitation.

CL, PL split decision

The Central and the Pacific leagues will hold their season openers on different dates next year for the first time in three seasons, Japanese baseball executives said after a board meeting Monday.

The Central League will kick off its 2004 schedule with games on April 2, while the Pacific League, which will reintroduce the playoff system, will begin its campaign on March 27 unlike this season when all 12 teams played their season openers on March 28.

Also, the board revealed that Shigeo Nagashima will leave Japan next Monday to tour Milan, Japan’s Olympic training base, and Athens as the national baseball team manager sets his sights on the Asian regional Olympic qualifier to be held in Sapporo this fall.

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