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Takeshi Yamasaki came within a single of hitting for the cycle as he went 3-for-4 with six RBIs to lead the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to an 18-3 drubbing of the Orix Buffaloes in the Pacific League on Friday.

News photoYuji Yoshioka of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles connects for a two-run single during the third inning of Friday’s game against the Orix Buffaloes at Fullcast Stadium in Sendai. The Eagles won 18-3.

Yamasaki hit a two-run double to key a six-run third inning and added a two-run homer in the fourth as Rakuten jumped to an 8-0 lead against veteran right-hander Masato Yoshii (6-4) at Fullcast Stadium.

The designated hitter then tripled home two more runs in the sixth, which saw the Eagles send 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs on seven hits, a walk and two hit batters.

Yuji Yoshioka and Akihiro Fujii both went 3-for-4 and combined for five RBIs as all of Rakuten’s nine starters hit safely in a 19-hit attack. Kanehisa Arime (3-6) allowed two runs on six hits in seven inning of work for the win.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Swallows 6, Dragons 3

At Nagoya Dome, league batting leader Norichika Aoki sparked a six-run third inning with a two-out double as Yakult beat second place Chunichi.

Aoki, who went 2-for-3 and improved his average to .350, scored the game-tying run on a single by Akinori Iwamura and the Swallows went on to score five more times in the big inning en route to handing the Dragons their second loss in a row.

Chunichi is now two games behind the idle Hanshin Tigers.

Yakult had five consecutive two-out RBI hits in the third, which also included a Ryoji Miyade two-run double, against Kenta Asakura.

Carp 6, Giants 4

At Hiroshima Stadium, Shigenobu Shima, Takahiro Arai and Tomonori Maeda hit consecutive home runs in the fifth inning off veteran left-hander Kimiyasu Kudo (10-8) as the Carp outslugged Yomiuri.

Hiroshima took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-out, bases-loaded single by Kenta Kurihara. Four innings later, Shima hit a two-run homer and league home run leader Arai and Maeda followed with solo shots to stretch the lead to six runs.

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