• The Associated Press

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Pinch-hitter Tetsuya Kakiuchi connected for a solo homer in the bottom of the 11th inning Saturday to lift the Chiba Lotte Marines to a 3-2 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

News photoYakult Swallows fans at Tokyo Dome on Saturday carry a series of placards with the message “Furuta, don’t give up,” to show their support to Yakult catcher
Atsuya Furuta, chairman of the players association, who has been working to delay the
merger of the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix BlueWave

Kakiuchi’s homer into the left field stands at Chiba Marine Stadium gave Bobby Valentine’s team a key win as they moved a half game ahead of the Fighters into third place in the standings. The third place team qualifies for the Pacific League playoffs.

Lotte reliever Masahide Kobayashi picked up the win after holding the Fighters scoreless over the final two innings.

The Fighters had a chance to win it in the ninth but the Marines tied the game on third baseman Michihiro Ogasawara’s throwing error.

BlueWave 7, Lions 5 (11)

At Seibu Dome, pinch-hitter Ryutaro Tsuji drove in a pair of runs with a triple to right field in the 11th inning as Orix downed the Lions.

BlueWave reliever Hisashi Tokano picked up the win after taking the mound in the 10th inning and holding the Lions scoreless.

Satoshi Tokumoto retired the side in the 11th for the save.

The Lions went into Saturday’s game trailing the Pacific League-leading Fukuoka Daiei Hawks by 4 1/2 games in the standings.

Buffaloes 11, Hawks 2

At Fukuoka Dome, Norihiro Nakamura belted a three-run homer and drove in six runs to power Kintetsu to a big win over league-leading Daiei.

Jeremy Powell picked up the win after holding the Hawks to two runs on eight hits over eight innings.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 5, BayStars 2

At Yokohama Stadium, rookie Takashi Toritani and Norihiro Akahoshi each drove in a run in the top of the ninth inning to lift Hanshin to a win over the BayStars.

Dragons 3, Carp 2

At Nagoya Dome, Hiroyuki Watanabe drove in a run with a clutch double up the middle as league-leading Chunichi scored three runs in the fifth inning on its way to a win over Hiroshima.

Giants 14, Swallows 3

At Tokyo Dome, leadoff hitter Toshihisa Nishi went 4-for-6 and drove in six runs as Yomiuri demolished Yakult.

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