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Angel Echevarria homered twice and Michihiro Ogasawara also went deep as the Nippon Ham Fighters won their third straight and sent the Seibu Lions to a season-worst fifth loss in a row in a 4-2 victory in the Pacific League on Saturday.

News photoMichihiro Ogasawara of
Nippon Ham watches his solo
homer in the sixth inning on
Saturday at Tokyo Dome. The
Fighters defeated the Seibu
Lions 4-2.

Echevarria’s first blast off Kazuyuki Hoashi (2-5) tied the game 1-all in the second inning at Tokyo Dome.

With the Fighters up 2-1 in the sixth, Ogasawara belted a shot followed by Echevarria’s second homer of the day.

Carlos Mirabal (11-6) scattered four hits in 7 1/3 innings for the win.

BlueWave 4, Buffaloes 3

At Osaka Dome, Jose Ortiz drove in the tying run on groundout with none out in the eighth inning, and pinch hitter Daisuke Maeda hit a go-ahead single as Orix rapped out 10 hits to beat Kintetsu.

Ortiz also hit a solo homer in the sixth to cut Kintetsu’s lead to 3-2 before the Orix bats made a winner of Jason Phillips.

Phillips (2-0) allowed three runs in seven innings to give the BlueWave their fifth win in six games. Kintetsu lost its third straight.

Hawks for sale

Struggling retailer Daiei Inc. and its main creditor UFJ Bank have decided to sell Daiei’s professional baseball club, the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, as well as two other businesses in Fukuoka, a major newspaper said Saturday.

Daiei has been trying to reduce its huge debt by shedding the unprofitable Fukuoka businesses, which include the Fukuoka Dome baseball stadium and managing the adjacent Sea Hawk Hotel and Resort.

Daiei will first decide on a buyer for the Fukuoka Dome stadium and will give it the right to designate a buyer for the professional ball club, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

The new ball club owner would hold 60 percent of its stake and up to 30 percent would be put up by Fukuoka-based companies, the newspaper said.

Daiei says officially it will dispose of the baseball stadium and hotel but continue to hold its stake in the Hawks.

The latest policy change reflects Daiei’s judgment that the business value of the Fukuoka operations would be higher if other companies managed them all, the daily said.

Daiei is reportedly in talks with three foreign businesses interested in buying Daiei’s so-called Fukuoka operations. But Daiei’s options for selling the Hawks are limited to domestic concerns because foreign firms are barred from owning professional Japanese baseball teams.

If everything goes smoothly, the sale of the ball club will be completed by the end of this year, the newspaper said, adding the new club owner is expected to leave its franchise in Fukuoka in response to strong calls from Hawks fans.

In the year ending in February, the three Fukuoka businesses suffered 1 billion yen in pretax losses on revenues of 34.5 billion yen. Their interest-bearing debt stood at about 128 billion yen as of the end of March.

The Daiei Hawks are 60 percent owned by Daiei and the remaining 40 percent by Tadashi Nakauchi, the second son of Daiei founder Isao Nakauchi.

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