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Yomiuri Giants infielder Kazuhiro Kiyohara hit his 500th career homer in a game against the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima Stadium on Friday night.

News photoYomiuri Giants slugger Kazuhiro Kiyohara smacks his 500th career home run off Hiroshima Carp reliever Koji Hiroike in the eighth inning Friday night at Hiroshima Stadium. The
Giants won 12-4.

Kiyohara led off the eighth inning with his memorable homer off Hiroshima southpaw Koji Hiroike to become only the eighth player in Japanese baseball history to reach the milestone.

The game also saw homers from Hiroki Kokubo and Shinnosuke Abe, lifting Giants over Hiroshima Carp 12-4 and to their first victory in seven games in the Central League.

Kiyohara went deep off Hiroshima southpaw Koji Hiroike to leadoff the eighth after the Giants took a 5-3 lead through the fifth.

Yoshinobu Takahashi homered three times from three different pitchers and drove in five runs alone in the 23-hit slugfest featuring nine home runs, but Kiyohara was the hero of the day as he thrilled the crowd of 26,263 with the memorable homer that earned him 10 million yen from the team.

Tetsuya Utsumi (3-2) gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings of work for the win, and Masayuki Hasegawa (1-3) took the loss for allowing three runs in two innings of relief from the fifth.

Kiyohara joined the Seibu Lions from PL Gakuen high school in 1986 as a first-round draft pick and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year after hitting .304 with 31 homers and 78 RBIs in his first year.

The 37-year-old Osaka native moved to Yomiuri after the 1996 season in a free-agent deal and became the 31st player to achieve 2,000 career hits in June last year.

Kiyohara won a total of 10 league titles and eight Japan Series crowns with Seibu and Yomiuri.

Dragons 9, BayStars 4

At Yokohama Stadium, Hirokazu Ibata, Alex Ochoa and Tyrone Woods each homered and combined for seven runs, powering first-place Chunichi over Yokohama. After Ibata and Ochoa’s homers made it 4-0 in the first inning, Woods hit a two-run drive for his third homer in as many games in the third.

Kenshin Kawakami (3-1) retired the first eight batters he faced and pitched a five-hitter with four strikeouts and no walks in seven scoreless innings for the win. Daisuke Miura (1-2) got charged with six runs in three innings for the loss.

Chunichi built a 9-0 cushion through the seventh before the BayStars rallied for four runs in the last two frames, but it was not enough to turn the tide and the home team fell to its fifth straight loss.

Swallows 2, Tigers 1

At Jingu Stadium, Alex Ramirez hit a tie-breaking solo blast off Yuya Ando (1-2) in the sixth inning for his fourth homer in as many games as Yakult beat second-place Hanshin for its fourth victory in a row.

Shane Spencer went deep in the second, but Katsuyuki Dobashi responded with an RBI double that tied the game 1-1 in the fourth. Lefty Shugo Fujii (1-1) held the damage to one run in seven innings to earn his first win in his fourth start this season while Hirotoshi Ishii worked the ninth for his fourth save.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Lotte Marines 6, Hawks 5

At Yahoo Dome, Saburo Omura singled for the eventual game winner in the eighth inning Friday as front-running Chiba Lotte overcame a three-run, ninth-inning rally by Softbank to take the game 6-5 for their eighth straight victory in the Pacific League.

Buffaloes 6, Fighters 2

At Sapporo Dome, Cliff Brumbaugh went 3-for-5 with three RBIs against Nippon Ham and highlighted a five-run second inning with a run-scoring double, lifting Orix to a season-high fourth consecutive victory.

Eagles 6, Lions 4

At Fullcast Stadium, Rakuten had just six hits to Seibu’s nine but capitalized on two opponent errors to snap an 11-game losing skid at home while sending the Lions to their fourth straight loss and seven games under .500.

Kochi posts win

MATSUYAMA (Kyodo) The Shikoku Island League, Japan’s first baseball independent league, opened its inaugural season Friday with a game between the Ehime Mandarin Pirates and the Kochi Fighting Dogs.

The game at Matsuyama stadium, in which the Fighting Dogs, skippered by former Yomiuri Giants pitcher Kazuaki Fujishiro, beat the Mandarin Pirates 8-2, drew a crowd of 7,067 and turned out a bright start for the league hoping to provide young players aiming to join the pros with playing experience.

The league is comprised of nearly 100 players between the age of 18 and 25 whose average annual salary is 2 million yen.

Four teams, the Kagawa Olive Guyners and the Tokushima Indigo Socks being the other two, are scheduled to play a 90-game season on the smallest main island of Shikoku in western Japan which runs till October. The Olive Guyners and Indigo Socks play their opening game in Takamatsu on Saturday.

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