Yoshinobu Takahashi broke a 4-4 tie with a solo homer off newcomer Mark Watson with one out in the seventh inning and the Yomiuri Giants held on for a three-game sweep of the Hiroshima Carp with a 6-4 victory in the Central League on Thursday.

Takahashi went 3-for-4 at Tokyo Dome with his 24th homer of the season. Yomiuri scored its sixth run on Watson’s wild pitch in the eighth, sending the Carp back into last place in the CL standings.

Yomiuri reliever Brian Sikorski (4-3) got the win after pitching two scoreless innings and second-year right-hander Yuya Kubo picked up his sixth save.

Rookie Yoshinori Ogata went 3-for-5, including a two-run triple in Hiroshima’s three-run fifth before the Giants leveled the game at 4-all in the bottom half.

Tigers 8, Dragons 7 (12)

At Koshien Stadium, veteran catcher Akihiro Yano drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning to give Hanshin a “sayonara” victory over CL-leading Chunichi.

BayStars at Swallows — ppd.

Giants join protest

The Yomiuri Giants players association carried out a signature drive Thursday at Tokyo Dome to oppose a move to a one-league format and a planned merger between the Orix BlueWave and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.

Yomiuri is the sixth team to carry out a signature drive following Kintetsu, the Chunichi Dragons, the Yokohama BayStars, the Yakult Swallows and the Hanshin Tigers.

Yomiuri players association president and Giant outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi joined pitcher Koji Uehara along with several members of the top team to request signatures from fans in front of their home stadium and collected 672 signatures in 25 minutes.

Tuffy Rhodes and other foreign players who are not members of the association also took part in the petition drive.

Yomiuri owner Tsuneo Watanabe is widely believed to be pressing ahead with a plan to contract professional baseball and realign the Central and Pacific leagues into one league through mergers of ball clubs, despite opposition from players.

On Wednesday, Japanese pro baseball officials rejected demands from the players association related to the planned merger between Orix and Kintetsu.

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