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The Yomiuri Giants have notified the Hanshin Tigers of their intention to offer Hanshin senior director Senichi Hoshino the job of manager at the Central League rival, former Tigers owner Shunjiro Kuma said Tuesday.

According to Kuma, Yomiuri officials said they plan to let Hoshino steer the Giants next season when they visited his home in Kobe late last month. Kuma added he has informed incumbent Hanshin owner Masatoshi Tezuka.

Tezuka, however, said that Hanshin has yet to be approached by Yomiuri and he will continue asking Hoshino to stay in his front-office position as senior director.

“Mr. Kuma must have thought he met people sent by the Giants, but what I understand is that it wasn’t so,” Tezuka said.

Kuma later issued a written comment saying he shares the same policy as Tezuka about the future of Hoshino.

Hoshino, who appeared at Nagoya Dome as a TV commentator Tuesday evening, flatly denied receiving an offer from Yomiuri.

“That’s the last thing you can think of and I would say if I’d really got an offer,” Hoshino said. “Returning to a (manager’s) job doesn’t happen so easily and you know there has to be the right timing for certain things.”

Yomiuri reportedly shortlisted him a month ago as a candidate for the next manager of the team, which has languished all season in the bottom half of the league standings.

The move has been drawing all the more attention as Yomiuri took the unprecedented step of hiring a manager who has no experience of playing for the oldest and most popular team in Japanese baseball.

Hoshino pitched for the Chunichi Dragons during his entire playing career and posted a 146-121 record between 1969 and 1982.

The 58-year-old had two stints as Dragons manager before taking the helm of the Tigers in 2002, leading his teams to three league titles — two with the Dragons and one with the Tigers.

He resigned as Tigers manager after the 2003 season for health reasons.

Dragons top Tigers

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Hirokazu Ibata and Kazuyoshi Tatsunami led the offense and rookie Kenichi Nakata came within one out of his first career shutout Tuesday as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Hanshin Tigers 5-2 to narrow the gap on the Central League leaders to two games.

Ibata and Tatsunami sparked the Dragons offense with back-to-back one-out singles in the first inning off Hanshin southpaw Kei Igawa (11-7), who then walked Tyrone Woods and forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk to Kosuke Fukudome at Nogoya Dome.

BayStars at Carp — ppd.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Lions 5, Fighters 4

At Invoice Seibu Dome, pinch-hitter Masahide Kaizuka turned the game around with a two-run single in the seventh inning as the Lions edged Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Eagles 2, Marines 0

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Rakuten right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (9-13) and two relievers combined for a four-hit shutout of Lotte.

Buffaloes 2, Hawks 1 (11)

At Osaka Dome, Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit his 40th homer of the season to tie the game but Orix beat league-leading Softbank on a “sayonara” double by Hirotoshi Kitagawa.

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