Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Tuffy Rhodes hit back-to-back homers in the first inning Saturday to power the Yomiuri Giants to a 5-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons.
Kiyohara hit a three-run homer off Chunichi starter Daisuke Yamai and Rhodes made it 4-0 with a solo shot to right.
Yoshinobu Takahashi gave the Giants a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the third with a solo homer off Yamai.
Yomiuri starter Tetsuya Utsumi earned his first career victory after holding the Dragons to one run on four hits over six innings.
The Giants had a scare in the top of the ninth when Motonobu Tanishige hit a two-run homer to cut the lead to 5-3 but Masanori Hayashi got Kosuke Fukudome to ground up to second with two out and the bases loaded to end the game.
Tigers 4, BayStars 1
At Koshien Stadium, Yuya Ando gave up a run and tossed a four-hitter over eight innings as front-running Hanshin downed Yokohama.
Tomoaki Kanemoto connected for a two-run homer in the fourth and Andy Sheets drove in a run in the fifth to lead the Hanshin attack. Tomoyuki Kubota retired the side in the ninth to pick up the save.
Swallows 8, Carp 2
At Hiroshima Stadium, Noriyuki Shiroishi went 3-for-5 with three RBIs as Yakult cruised to a victory over the Carp for its third straight win.
Yakult starter Yuhei Takai struck out nine and held the Carp to one run on eight hits over six innings to pick up the win.
Marines 10, Fighters 2
At Chiba Marine Stadium, former New York Mets infielder Matt Franco drove in three runs to lead surging Lotte to a win over Nippon Ham.
Franco drove in a pair of runs in the first inning with a single to right and added a solo homer in the fourth as Bobby Valentine’s team won their fourth straight game to remain in first place in the Pacific League standings.
Lotte starter Shunsuke Watanabe picked up the win after striking out eight and holding the Fighters to one run on three hits over seven innings.
Buffaloes 6, Eagles 1
At Osaka Dome, Atsuhiro Mitsuhara went seven strong innings as Orix downed Rakuten.
Mitsuhara held the Eagles to one run on four hits over seven innings to pick up the win and improve to 2-0 on the season.
The Buffaloes jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly to left by Cliff Brumbaugh.
Orix made it 3-0 in the bottom of the second on a grounder to first by Mitsutaka Goto that scored the runner from third and an infield single by Arihito Muramatsu, who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs.
Lions 4, Hawks 1
At Yahoo Dome, designated-hitter Taisei Takagi drove in three runs to lead Seibu over Softbank.
Seibu starter Junichi Kawahara, who was recently acquired from the Yomiuri Giants, picked up the win after holding the Hawks to one run on three hits over seven innings.
FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Softbank Hawks infielder Munenori Kawasaki was removed from the active roster on Saturday after he was diagnosed with a left side injury.
Kawasaki complained of discomfort in the same area during a three-game series that started Monday against the Orix Buffaloes and sat out a game against the Seibu Lions at Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka on Friday.
X-rays taken at a Fukuoka hospital revealed damage to his rib cartilage. He will require at least two weeks to recover.
Softbank manager Sadaharu Oh estimates Kawasaki will need three weeks before he can return to the lineup.
HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Yakult Swallows closer Ryota Igarashi will be out of action for at least a month after being diagnosed with strained muscles in his right thigh, team officials said Saturday.
The hard-throwing right-hander was removed from the first-team active roster the same day and returned to Tokyo from Hiroshima, where the Swallows are playing a three-game series against the Hiroshima Carp.
Igarashi, who holds the Japanese record for the hardest thrown fastball of 158 kph, complained of pain in his right leg after a one-inning outing against the Carp on Friday.
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