• The Associated Press

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Former New York Yankees outfielder Chris Latham belted a solo homer in the top of the sixth inning Thursday to lift the Yomiuri Giants to a 2-1 victory over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.

News photoYomiuri Giant Cjris Latham hits a solo homer off Chunichi Dragons starter Shigeki Noguchi in the sixth inning at Nagoya Dome.

Latham connected off Chunichi starter Shigeki Noguchi for his fourth homer of the season as the Giants took a 2-0 lead off the veteran left-hander.

Alex Ochoa, formerly of the Anaheim Angels, drove in Chunichi’s only run of the game with a single to left in the bottom of the ninth that knocked Yomiuri starter Masanori Hayashi out of the game.

Hayashi picked up his first win of the season and reliever Julio Santana, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies, retired the side in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his third save.

There were no other games played in Japanese professional baseball Thursday. The only other scheduled game — between the Hiroshima Carp and the Yakult Swallows at Jingu Stadium — was canceled due to rain.

With Chunichi’s loss, the idle Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers maintained a 17 1/2-game lead in the standings. Their magic number to clinch the pennant stayed at 24.

There were no games scheduled Thursday in the Pacific League.

Rain washes out play

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Four scheduled second-round games at the ongoing national high school baseball tournament were postponed due to rain on Thursday.

Games between Okinawa Shogaku (Okinawa) and Shiritsu Gifu Shogyo (Gifu), Asahikawa Daiko (Kita Hokkaido) and Komatsushima (Tokushima), Shonan (Kagoshima) and Kiryu Daiichi (Gunma) and Kisarazu Sogo (Chiba) against Kosei Gakuin (Aomori) were rescheduled for Friday at Koshien Stadium.

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