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Kawaguchi’s solo shot powers Buffaloes past BlueWave

News photoChunichi Dragons hurler Kenjiro Kawasaki unleashes a pitch against the Hawks.

Kenshi Kawaguchi hit a solo homer in the top of the eighth inning Wednesday to lift the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes to a 5-4 win over the Orix BlueWave in a preseason game.

Kawaguchi’s homer to left off Orix reliever Takuji Yamamoto made a winner of Kintetsu reliever Iori Sekiguchi, who took the mound in the seventh inning and held the BlueWave scoreless.

Former Montreal Expos pitcher Masato Yoshii started for Orix but gave up four runs on five hits over five innings.

Orix designated hitter Roosevelt Brown hit a two-run homer off of Kintetsu starter Jeremy Powell in the first inning after the Buffaloes had roughed up Yoshii for four runs.

Hawks 4, Dragons 1

At Fukuoka Dome, last year’s Japan Series Most Valuable Player Toshiya Sugiuchi didn’t surrender a hit over three scoreless innings as Daiei downed Chunichi.

Infielder Ryo Yoshimoto went 2-for-2 at the plate while driving in a pair of runs as Daiei picked up its first preseason win.

Chunichi starter Kenjiro Kawasaki, looking to make a comeback after several injury-plagued seasons, gave up one run on four hits over four innings to take the loss.

Negoro mulls change

Japanese baseball commissioner Yasuchika Negoro on Wednesday expressed interest in the prospect of having regular season games between the Pacific and Central leagues.

Speaking to reporters at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Negoro said he would like to discuss the possibility of introducing interleague play.

“Personally, I think this idea is interesting,” said Negoro, a former Japan Fair Trade Commission chairman and lawyer who succeeded Hiromori Kawashima at the end of January.

“There are demerits and merits and opposition to the idea, but if there is strong enough support for this, I’d like to discuss it with club general managers and owners,” he said.

The Pacific League has been a firm supporter of the idea as a way to bring some excitement back to the game while the Central League continues to be strongly opposed.

Negoro, 71, also touched on the possibility of holding games between amateur and pro teams to attract a larger fan base as the current 12-team system could collapse in the future due to the added pressure of increasing player salaries.

Brock returns home

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Hiroshima Carp pitcher Chris Brock will return to the United States for treatment on his right shoulder, the Central League club said Wednesday.

Team officials said that the 34-year-old Brock would possibly undergo surgery but will return to Japan immediately if the procedure goes smoothly.

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