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Shuichi Murata lined a single for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning Saturday as the Yokohama BayStars overcame six scoreless innings to beat the front-running Chunichi Dragons 8-4 in the Central League.

News photoSeibu Lions left fielder Kazuhiro Wada dives in front of shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to catch a fly ball by Kenshi Kawaguchi of Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the fourth inning Saturday at Fullcast Stadium. The Lions won 4-1.

After Takahiro Saeki reached on a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a Hitoshi Taneda single, he came around to score the tie-breaking run on Murata’s clutch hit off Shinya Okamoto (2-1) that put the BayStars up 5-4 at Yokohama Stadium.

Ryoji Aikawa, Takuro Ishii and Seiichi Uchikawa, who singled in the game-tying run in the four-run seventh, followed with RBI hits in the four-run eighth to extend the lead for good.

The BayStars pounded out 10 of 13 hits in the last two frames and snapped their losing skid after five games.

Atsushi Kizuka (2-1) worked a perfect eighth for the win, and Mark Kroon matched a Japan record with a 158-kph pitch in the ninth.

Swallows 5, Tigers 2

At Jingu Stadium, Atsunori Iwamura hit a three-run blast off right-hander Naohisa Sugiyama (1-1) to erase a two-run deficit in the fifth and Katsuyuki Dobashi added insurance with a run-scoring double, helping to lift Yakult to its fifth win in a row.

Ryo Kawashima (1-1) got his first win this season, allowing two runs, six hits and five walks in five innings. Ken Suzuki had an RBI double in the seventh to cap the scoring, sending Hanshin to its third straight loss.

Late game: Giants at Carp

Marines stay hot

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Matt Franco homered to put the Chiba Lotte Marines on the board in the fifth inning Saturday and Benny Agbayani singled in the second run in the sixth in a 2-1 victory over the Softbank Hawks in the Pacific League.

Dan Serafini (3-0) held the Hawks to five hits in six scoreless innings while striking out six and walking four at Yahoo Dome, maintaining his perfect record after five starts this season.

Nagisa Arakaki (2-2) gave up two runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of work.

The Marines stretched their winning streak to nine games.

Fighters 11, Buffaloes 1

At Sapporo Dome, Fernando Seguignol went 3-for-4 with an RBI single in a six-run first inning and a solo shot for the second of the team’s three homers off Atsuhiro Mitsuhara in Nippon Ham’s triumph over Orix.

Satoru Kanemura (4-2) limited the damage to a run and six hits in six innings while receiving run support from a 15-hit offense that built a 9-0 lead through the fourth.

Mitsuhara (3-1) was rocked for nine runs and 11 hits, including homers to Erick Almonte and Kuniyuki Kimoto, in four innings in taking his first loss.

Lions 4, Eagles 1 (11)

At Fullcast Stadium, Alex Cabrera broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI double off Hiroki Yamamura (0-1) in the 11th inning and Hiroyuki Nakajima added two more runs on a bases-loaded single, powering Seibu over Rakuten and to its first victory in five games.

Shinji Mori (2-0) worked two scoreless innings from the ninth and Kiyoshi Toyoda got the final three outs for the save as the Lions denied the last-place Eagles their second back-to-back victory this season.

Demotion confirmed

Kyodo News The slumping Rakuten Eagles removed Marty Kuehnert from his post as general manager Saturday over unproductive results of the team’s foreign players.

Isao Hirono, an assistant general manager also in charge of team acquisitions, will take over as the acting general manager, team officials said.

Team president Toru Shimada said the move was aimed at building up the team for the future and not a result of the new Pacific League team being in last place.

“This is not (being done) because we are losing now but we are aiming to strategically build the team for the future,” Shimada said.

A day earlier, Rakuten manager Yasushi Tao said the 58-year-old American lacked the connections in and outside Japanese baseball to successfully perform his duties as general manager though he is still valued as a member of the team’s personnel.

Kuehnert took up his post in October and had been pivotal in building the new Pacific League team in Sendai, but the team decided to ask him to step down after the Eagles got off to a humiliating 6-23 start in their inaugural season, including 11 straight losses.

Kuehnert will be kept on as a team adviser.

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