Makoto Imaoka hit a grand slam Thursday and Shinjiro Hiyama followed with a solo blast as the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers broke open a big lead in the opening frame en route to a 7-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

News photoHanshin Tigers starter Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi delivers a pitch against the Yomiuri Giants at
Tokyo Dome on Thursday. Shimoyanagi earned his 12th victory of the season in the Tigers’ 7-1

The Tiger won their sixth game in a row and guaranteed a winning record for the third straight year against the Giants.

Veteran lefty Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi (12-3) limited the damage to one run and four hits over 5 2/3 sharp innings against Kentaro Nishimura (2-2), who was chased after allowing five runs in 1 2/3 shaky innings.

Imaoka was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to add a run in the fourth followed by Hanshin catcher Akihiro Yano’s one-out drive to right to cap the scoring in the seventh.

With Chunichi’s defeat to Yokohama, Hanshin’s magic number to clinch the CL title dropped to 11.

Swallows 1, Carp 0

In Tokyo, Masanori Ishikawa pitched eight scoreless innings, helping lift Yakult to a shutout of Hiroshima.

Ishikawa (10-7) gave up five hits while striking out six with no walks and posted double-digit wins for the fourth consecutive year. Hirotoshi Ishii picked up his 34th save.

Noriyuki Shiroishi gave Yakult a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice bunt in the fifth.

Hiroyuki Kuroda (12-10) pitched eight strong innings, allowing just four hits and no walks at Jingu Stadium, but failed to get run support.

BayStars 6, Dragons 3

At Nagoya Dome, Hitoshi Taneda delivered a tiebreaking base-clearing triple off Hitoki Iwase (1-2) in the ninth inning as Yokohama sent struggling Chunichi to its sixth defeat in seven games.

Chunichi took a 2-0 lead in the first inning but Yokohama cut the deficit with a run-scoring single by Hitoshi Tamura in the sixth and went ahead 3-2 in the top of the seventh. Kosuke Fukudome’s solo blast tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of seventh.

Takeo Kawamura (5-6) got the win in relief and Mark Kroon got three outs in a perfect ninth for his 24th save.

Carp’s Nomura to retire

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Hiroshima Carp infielder Kenjiro Nomura, who earlier this year reached the 2,000-hit milestone, will retire at the end of this season, according to club officials.

In June, Nomura, 38, became the 33rd player in Japanese baseball history to reach the 2,000-hit mark, following in the footsteps of former Hiroshima stars Sachio Kinugasa and Koji Yamamoto.

However, he found himself frequently left out of the starting lineup, playing mainly as a pinch hitter.

Nomura has spent his entire career with the Carp since joining the club in 1989 as a first-round draft pick. He led the CL in stolen bases three times and won a Gold Glove.

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