• The Associated Press

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Yomiuri Giants outfielder Tuffy Rhodes is tired of losing, and has some harsh words for his teammates.

“I hate the Giants,” the Nikkan Sports newspaper quoted the former major leaguer as saying after a 7-5 loss Tuesday to the Yakult Swallows. “Everybody is lousy, I hate this.

“Our pitchers throw the ball right down the middle of the plate and I take the blame?”

The Swallows scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to hand the struggling Giants their fifth straight loss. After the loss, Rhodes was reportedly singled out at a team meeting for not hustling on a double by Alex Ramirez that allowed Yakult to score the go-ahead run.

A Giants team official said during Wednesday’s game against the Swallows that Rhodes would be fined for his outburst but didn’t specify the amount. Rhodes, who threatened to leave the team, reportedly apologized to manager Tsuneo Horiuchi and started Wednesday’s game in left field.

The Giants, who have one of the highest payrolls in Japanese baseball, are in last place in the Central League with an 8-14 record, 6 1/2 games behind the league-leading Chunichi Dragons.

As Japan’s most popular team, the Giants face tremendous pressure each year to perform. When things don’t go well, it’s often the foreign players who take the blame.

Earlier this month, the Giants put pitcher Dan Miceli on waivers after the former Houston Astros right-hander blew several save opportunities.

Rhodes, a 10-year veteran of Japanese baseball, signed with the Giants in 2004 after eight seasons with the now-defunct Kintetsu Buffaloes.

He hit 45 homers last season for the Giants and had 55 in 2001 to tie Sadaharu Oh’s single-season record.

Hawks pound Fighter

The Associated Press Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit a pair of homers Wednesday to lead the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks to an 8-1 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.

Matsunaka, who won the Triple Crown last season, hit a three-run homer in the first inning and then added a solo blast in the fifth as the Hawks took an 8-0 lead.

Softbank starter Kazumi Saito picked up the win after holding the Fighters to one run on two hits over 7 2/3 innings.

Marines 7, Lions 1

In Chiba, Makoto Kosaka went 4-for-5 and drove in four runs as league-leading Lotte downed Seibu for its seventh straight win.

Lotte starter Kosuke Kato held the Lions to one run on five hits over seven innings to pick up the victory as Bobby Valentine’s team maintained a half-game lead over Softbank in the standings.

Buffaloes 8, Eagles 4

In Yamagata, Cliff Brumbaugh and Hirotoshi Kitagawa hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning as Orix handed Rakuten its 11th straight loss.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Swallows 3, Giants 2

In Fukuoka, Ryuji Miyade scored the winning run from third on a fielder’s choice as Yakult edged struggling Yomiuri.

Shohei Tateyama picked up his first win as a professional after giving up two runs on three hits over six innings as the Swallows handed the Giants their sixth straight loss.

Kazuhiro Kiyohara went hitless in three at-bats and is still one homer shy of 500 career homers.

Tigers 6, Dragons 3

At Koshien Stadium, catcher Akihiro Yano hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning to lead Hanshin over front-running Chunichi.

Carp 5, BayStars 2

In Saga, Koichi Ogata homered and drove in three runs to lead Hiroshima over Yokohama.

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