• The Associated Press

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Mitsutaka Goto connected for a grand slam Wednesday as the Orix Buffaloes downed the Pacific League-leading Softbank Hawks 11-2 at Skymark Stadium.

News photoHanshin Tigers baserunner Andy Sheets collides with Hiroshima Carp catcher Yoshikazu Kura at home plate but is ruled out in the third inning Wednesday at Hiroshima Stadium. The Tigers won 9-4.

Goto’s grand slam in the third inning off Softbank reliever Shinji Kurano gave the Buffaloes an early 7-0 lead. Goto also drove in runs in the fourth and eighth innings to help Orix widen its lead.

Shogo Yamamoto struck out seven and picked up the win after holding the Hawks to two runs on seven hits over six inning.

With the victory, Orix avoided a three-game sweep and picked up their fourth win of the season.

Marines 15, Lions 4

At Seibu Invoice Dome, Benny Agbayani hit a grand slam and Akira Otsuka drove in three runs as the Chiba Lotte cruised past the Lions.

Fighters 10, Eagles 1

At Iwaki Green Stadium, Kuniyuki Kimoto went 3-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs as Nippon Ham crushed Rakuten.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 4, Swallows 3 (10)

At Jingu Stadium, Masahiko Morino hit a game-tying three run homer in the top of the ninth and Kosuke Fukudome drew a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning as front-running Chunichi downed Yakult.

Tigers 9, Carp 4

At Hiroshima Stadium, Makoto Imaoka hit a three-run homer in the top of the fifth inning as Hanshin downed the Carp.

Giants 8, BayStars 7 (11)

At Yokohama Stadium, Yoshinobu Takahashi belted a go-ahead homer in the top of the 11th inning as Yomiuri beat the BayStars for its first win of the season.

Rookie Ichiba to get call

IWAKI, Fukushima Pref. (Kyodo) Rakuten Eagles manager Yasushi Tao said Wednesday he plans to promote rookie right-hander Yasuhiro Ichiba to the top team prior to a three-game series against the Softbank Hawks beginning next Monday.

Tao said he is considering giving Ichiba a spot in Rakuten’s starting rotation after he held the Yomiuri Giants to an unearned run in three innings in a minor-league game Tuesday.

“The game served as a test for him and we have to give due recognition to the result,” Tao said. “It seems to me that he will be able to live up to his potential as a starter rather than as a reliever.”

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