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Former Hanshin Tiger Tomochika Tsuboi nailed an RBI single to spark a four-run rally in the fifth inning as the Nippon Ham Fighters came from behind to defeat the Kintetsu Buffaloes 4-2 at Osaka Dome on Saturday.

The Buffaloes took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning with Kenshi Kawaguchi’s solo homer off Hiroyuki Sekine (4-0).

In the fifth, Kuniyuki Kimoto led off the inning with a double. After Yukio Tanaka grounded out to shortstop, the Fighters erupted for four runs on four consecutive RBI hits by Tsuboi, Tatsuya Ide, Makoto Kaneko and Katsuhiko Yamada, also a former Hanshin player.

In the ninth, the Buffaloes loaded the bases and scored a run on a Yuji Yoshioka sacrifice fly, but Yoshinori Tateyama got followup pinch-hitter Daisuke Masuda out on a grounder to shortstop to end the game.

Sekine held Kintetsu to one run on four hits over six-plus innings for the win, while Buffs starter Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4) allowed four runs on six hits over five innings in taking the loss. He struck out seven.

Hawks 3, Marines 2

Daiei catcher Kenji Jojima homered for the third straight night and starter Kazumi Saito (9-2) tossed 7 1/3 strong innings as the Hawks edged Lotte at Chiba Marine Stadium to stay atop the Pacific League standings.

Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Jojima cracked a two-run homer off Marines starter Naoyuki Shimizu (6-4) to tie the game.

The Hawks scored the go-ahead run in the sixth on an error.

Saito limited Lotte to two runs on five hits while fanning seven to tie Lions hurler Daisuke Matsuzaka with his PL-leading ninth win.

Shuji Yoshida worked a perfect ninth for his third save.

Shimizu allowed two earned runs on eight hits and struck out five over seven-plus innings in a losing effort.

Lions 10, BlueWave 5

Kazuo Matsui nailed a first-inning leadoff homer and Alex Cabrera had four RBIs as Seibu downed Orix at Seibu Dome.

Taiwanese right-hander Chang Chih-chia (5-2) gave up four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings but held on for the win as the Lions won their fourth straight against the BlueWave.

Orix starter Koo Dae Sung (2-5) was tagged with the loss, giving up four earned runs on four hits — including solo homers to Matsui and Scott McClain — over 4 1/3 innings.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 16, Giants 5

Shinjiro Hiyama belted a tie-breaking solo homer off Yomiuri reliever Yuya Kubo (3-2) to lead off the eighth, igniting a 10-run outburst in which Hanshin sent 15 batters to the plate en route to demolishing the Giants at Tokyo Dome.

The victory gave the Tigers a 10-game lead in the CL standings.

Hiyama went 4-for-5 and added a two-run homer in the ninth.

Hanshin starter Hideki Irabu (8-2) allowed four runs and nine hits over seven innings to match the league high for wins.

Carp 6, Dragons 3

Tomonori Maeda went 3-for-4, including a solo homer, and drove in four runs as Hiroshima downed Chunichi at Akita Prefectural Stadium, putting a halt to the Dragons’ five-game winning streak.

Maeda connected for a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning off Dragons hurler Masafumi Hirai (2-3) and in the fifth, after Takahiro Arai drew a bases-loaded walk, Maeda cracked a bases-clearing double.

Carp starter Ken Takahashi (7-0) pitched six-hit ball over seven solid innings, giving up two runs to remain unbeaten.

BayStars 5, Swallows 3

Hitoshi Taneda belted his first homer of the year — a three-run clout off Yakult rookie Yuhei Takai (1-3) — to cap a four-run rally in the fifth as Yokohama edged the Swallows at Jingu Stadium.

Up 4-3 in the seventh, the BayStars added a run with Takanori Suzuki’s solo homer.

Reliever Masahiro Tazaki (1-0) picked up the win, pitching two scoreless innings in relief of starter Takeo Kawamura, who allowed three runs over four innings.

Cox seeks treatment

Infielder Steve Cox, who had been practicing on the Yokohama BayStars’ minor league squad after injuring his calf in early June, will return to the United States to seek treatment for a nagging right knee injury, officials of the Central League club said Saturday.

Cox underwent surgery on his knee in February after sustaining an injury during spring training but he has failed to completely recover. Club officials said Cox could be expected back in Japan after the All-Star break in mid-July at the latest.

Cox, who was taken off the team’s active roster on June 6 after injuring his left calf, has seven RBIs and one home run with a .200 average in 15 minor league games since the start of the season.

The former Tampa Bay Devil Rays slugger was acquired by Yokohama on a one-year, 320 million yen deal for 2003.

Cox hit 39 home runs in 378 games in his major league career, including 16 homers in 148 games for Tampa Bay in 2002.

Hawks welcome Zuleta

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Former Triple-A Pawtucket infielder Julio Zuleta arrived in Fukuoka on Friday to play for the Daiei Hawks, officials of the Pacific League team said.

The 28-year-old Panamanian played for the Chicago Cubs in 2000 and 2001, hitting .247 with 36 RBIs and nine homers in 79 major league games. He was assigned to the minor league camp of the Boston Red Sox on March 22.

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