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Makoto Imaoka hit a grand slam in the eight inning to rally the front-running Hanshin Tigers to a 6-2 victory over the Yokahama BayStars to end their four-game skid in the Central League on Thursday.

News photoMakoto Imaoka of the Tigers belts a grand slam in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game against
the BayStars at Yokohama Stadium. Hanshin won 6-2.

Yokohama took a 2-1 lead through the fifth before Norihiro Akahoshi sparked the charge with a single to left to set up Imaoka’s dramatic one-out homer to the stands in left field at Yokohama Stadium.

Akihiro Yano, who homered to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fifth, added insurance with a RBI single to right to cap the scoring in the same explosive frame.

Jeff Williams (3-3), who relieved starter Yuya Ando, got the win after pitching a scoreless seventh. Yokohama reliever Takeo Kawamura (4-3) took the loss.

Carp 4, Giants 2

At Hiroshima Stadium, Takahiro Arai, Kenta Kurihara and catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara delivered consecutive RBI hits to turn the game around in the sixth inning as Hiroshima sent Yomiuri to its sixth loss in seven games.

Arai hit a one-out run-scoring single to tie the game 2-2 followed by Kurihara’s RBI single to left and Ishihara’s RBI double off Tetsuya Utsumi (4-7) for the go-ahead. Yasuhiro Oyamada (6-9) pitched two-run ball over seven strong innings for the win and John Bale got his 12th save.

Dragons 5, Swallows 4

In Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Pref., Kazuyoshi Tatsunami hit a game-tying homer in the fifth inning and Tyrone Woods followed with a two-out seventh-inning RBI single off Ryu Kawabata (2-4) as Chunichi snapped Yakult’s four-game winning streak.

Shinya Okamoto (10-3) held batters hitless over two scoreless frames in relief and Hitoki Iwase worked the ninth for his 29th save. Woods went 3-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the 10-hit attack.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Marines 8, Eagles 3

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Toshiaki Imae hit a leadoff homer to ignite a four-run fifth inning as the Lotte came from behind to rout last-place Tohoku Rakuten for its fourth straight victory.

Saburo Omura went deep twice, with a solo blast in the sixth and a three-run drive in the eighth as the second-place Marines narrowed the gap between the first-place Softbank Hawks to 3 1/2 games in the standings.

Dan Serafini (6-3) pitched his first complete-game in Japan, scattering seven hits with six strikeouts and one walk over the distance. Makoto Kito (0-4) was tagged with the loss for the Eagles, who dropped their third game in a row.

Jojima injured

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Softbank Hawks catcher Kenji Jojima, who is eyeing a move to the major leagues, was removed from the active roster for the first time in three years after being diagnosed with an inflamed right shoulder, team officials said Thursday.

Jojima will have to refrain from throwing for about one week before a decision on a rehabilitation schedule for the 29-year-old can be made, officials said.

It is the first time in three years, not including last summer’s Athens Olympics, for Jojima to be removed from the active roster. He was last sidelined with a broken collarbone in June 2002.

“I think we’ve been relying too heavily on Jojima, so this is probably a good opportunity (to let someone else catch),” said Softbank manager Sadaharu Oh.

Softbank is scheduled to play a three-game series with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles beginning Friday at Fullcast Stadium in Sendai.

Jojima injured his right shoulder during a game against Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on July 12.

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