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Officials fail to bridge gap over realignment

Japanese baseball officials failed to reach an agreement Monday on whether to realign the professional leagues, with two opposing camps remaining far apart over the issue.

The executive committee of Nippon Professional Baseball decided after a seven-hour session that discussions will continue to be held amid opposition from an alliance of Central League clubs to the move toward a one-league system.

Hanshin Tigers President Katsuyoshi Nozaki reiterated that the Osaka-based CL club wants to maintain the current two-league system even if the number of PL clubs will be reduced.

Nozaki has won support from the majority of CL clubs, including the Chunichi Dragons and the Yakult Swallows, for Hanshin’s drive.

The Yomiuri Giants are the only CL club that is on a collision course with Hanshin and its supporters.

The executive committee will next meet Aug. 16, but no major progress is expected to be made until a Sept. 8 gathering of the owners of all 12 ball clubs.

In a separate meeting, representatives from the six Pacific League teams reaffirmed that they will push ahead with the initiative to realign professional baseball into one league if the PL contracts to four teams through mergers.

Lions narrow gap

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) Kazuhiro Wada, Jose Fernandez and Shogo Akada homered Monday to lead a 13-hit offense as the Seibu Lions beat the front-running Daiei Hawks 8-3 to move up to one game of the Pacific League lead.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-6), who got a five-run lead after three innings, allowed three runs on four hits in the sixth inning but managed to earn his eighth win in a shaky eight-inning outing at Seibu Dome.

Buffaloes 7, Fighters 5

At Osaka Dome, Hiroaki Onishi broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with his first career grand slam to lift Kintetsu to a victory over Nippon Ham.

Right-hander Hiroshi Takamura (1-1) picked up his first win of the season after allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings before the Kintetsu bullpen held off the Fighters’ late rally.

Marines 9, BlueWave 5

At Yahoo BB Stadium, Koji Hirashita, Matt Franco and Lee Seung Yeop all went deep to drive in six runs between them in the first inning and Lotte went on to beat last-place Orix.