• The Associated Press

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Makoto Imaoka drove in six runs on a pair of homers and a triple Thursday as the Hanshin Tigers downed the Chunichi Dragons 8-1 to open up a 1 1/2-game lead in the Central League standings.

News photo
Makoto Imaoka of the Tigers belts a three-run homer during the fifth inning of Thursday’s Central League game against the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya. Imaoka also hit a two-run homer earlier in the game as Hanshin won 8-1.

Imaoka hit a two-run homer in the third inning at Koshien Stadium and then added a three-run blast in the fifth as the Tigers took a commanding 6-1 lead. The veteran infielder drove in another run in a two-run seventh with a triple to center field.

Hanshin starter Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi held the Dragons to one run on three hits over five innings for the win.

Chunichi starter Masahiro Yamamoto was rocked for five runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss.

Giants 3, Swallows 2

At Matsuyama Stadium, Kentaro Nishimura picked up his first professional win as Yomiuri edged Yakult.

News photoJeremy Powell of the Buffaloes tosses the ball to first after fielding a grounder by Masahide Kaizuka of the Seibu Lions at Skymark Stadium on Thursday. Orix won 2-1.

Nishimura, who struck out five, held the Swallows to one run on six hits over eight innings. He helped his own cause at the plate when he drove in a run with a double to center.

Tomohiro Nioka drove in a run in the first inning on a double to right and Hiroki Kokubo belted a solo homer to left in the sixth inning.

Carp 7, BayStars 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Koichi Ogata and Masafumi Suenaga both hit two-run homers in the top of the ninth inning to power Hiroshima past the BayStars.

Tom Davey picked up the win after holding Yokohama to one run on five hits over eight innings.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Buffaloes 2, Lions 1

At Kobe’s Skymark Stadium, Jeremy Powell went 8 1/3 strong innings as Orix edged Seibu.

Powell struck out eight while giving up one run on six hits to improve to 13-10 on the season. Daisuke Kato recorded the final two outs for the save.

Eiji Mizuguchi hit a solo homer in the fourth and Cliff Brumbaugh added a solo shot in the fifth for the Buffaloes.

With the win, Orix moved back into third place.

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