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Kudo gets 200th career win, first homer

Kimiyasu Kudo celebrated his 200th career win with his second complete game of the season and first career homer that gave the Yomiuri Giants a 4-2 victory over the Yakult Swallows in the Central League on Tuesday.

News photoYomiuri Giants starter Kimiyasu Kudo is congratulated by catcher Shinnosuke Abe after earning
his 200th career victory at Tokyo Dome.

Kudo (9-5) held Yakult to a pair of solo homers as the 41-year-old southpaw scattered eight hits and struck out five on his way to becoming the 23rd player in Japanese baseball history to reach the milestone.

He is the first pitcher aged 40 or older to achieve the feat and the first since Manabu Kitabeppu of the Hiroshima Carp posted his 200th win on July 16, 1992.

Kudo helped his own cause at the plate with a go-ahead two-run shot off Jason Beverlin (9-10), his first homer in a professional career that began in 1982 with the Seibu Lions, in the seventh after Roberto Petagine homered to tie the game at 2-2.

“I had been hoping that I would notch No. 200 at the Tokyo Dome today. I didn’t think I could hit a homer. I was just thinking at the plate I would have to do something to turn the tide,” Kudo said.

Kudo won the Pacific League MVP award in 1993 with Seibu and 1999 with the Daiei Hawks before joining Yomiuri in 2000 as a free agent, having helped his teams to a total of 14 league pennants and 11 Japan Series titles.

Dragons 9, Tigers 8

At Nagoya Dome, Masahiko Morino tied the game with an RBI triple in the third inning and hit a three-run homer in a five-run fifth as league-leader Chunichi held off a late rally to edge Hanshin.

Carp at BayStars — ppd.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 6, Hawks 6 (12)

At Sapporo Dome, Tsuyoshi Shinjo hit a pair of RBI doubles and drove in four runs to help Nippon Ham overcome a six-run deficit to tie with Daiei.

Shinjo highlighted a five-run seventh with a bases-clearing double as Nippon Ham pulled within one run, before forcing the game into extra innings with a one-run double in the bottom of the ninth.

Marines 4, Lions 3 (11)

At Seibu Dome, Koichi Hori hit a game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning and Koji Hirashita singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning as Lotte beat the Lions to stop its three-game losing skid.

Buffaloes 5, BlueWave 3

At Kagoshima, Shinji Shimoyama hit a bases-loaded double to highlight a fifth-run rally in the seventh inning as Kintetsu came back from three runs down to beat last-place Orix.

Jury still out on baseball realignment

Representatives from Japan’s 12 ballclubs on Monday left inconclusive the debate on whether to realign Japanese professional baseball and the issue is expected to be discussed again before a key meeting of ballclub owners scheduled for Sept. 8.

In a meeting that lasted 5 hours and 45 minutes, the majority of Central League clubs asked the Pacific League teams to put forward a concrete timetable and details regarding their proposals for a shift to a one-league system.

All six Pacific League teams have 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.

The PL clubs have been seeking a shift to one league since Seibu Lions owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi said at a July 7 owners meeting that another merger plan was in the works in the PL in addition to the planned merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes.

In Monday’s meeting, PL club officials said they have been working steadily on a second merger but stopped short of giving any details of the merger plan, people familiar with the talks said.

Representatives from the Hanshin Tigers, Yakult Swallows and Hiroshima Carp reiterated their claim that switching to one league is premature and the current two-league format has to be maintained.