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Makoto Imaoka drove in three runs to boost his league-leading RBI total to 144 as the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers beat the Yomiuri Giants 7-5 Wednesday.

News photoHanshin’s Makoto Imaoka scores as Yomiuri catcher Yoshinori Murata drops the ball in the first
inning Wednesday at Koshien Stadium. The Tigers won 7-5.

The fifth straight win, coupled with the second-place Chunichi Dragons’ loss, reduced Hanshin’s magic number for clinching the Central League title to one.

Hanshin took a 6-0 lead in the first inning as it collected seven hits, sending 11 batters to the plate against Hisanori Takahashi (8-11) at Koshien Stadium. Imaoka hit a two-run single in the first and singled home another run in the fourth that made it 7-4 after Yomiuri pulled within two runs.

Kei Igawa (13-8) won his fourth straight decision against Yomiuri, while allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings. Tomoyuki Kubota worked the ninth for his 27th save after Kyuji Fujikawa tied a Japanese baseball record of 78 games pitched in a season.

Yomiuri suffered its 76th loss of the season, setting the franchise’s worst record for defeats.

BayStars 6, Dragons 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Ken Kadokura pitched seven solid innings and helped his own cause with a three-run double as the BayStars beat Chunichi.

Carp 2, Swallows 0

At Hiroshima Stadium, Carp right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (14-10) shut out Yakult to become the first 14-game winner in the league.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hawks 6, Eagles 5

In Fukuoka, Naoki Matoyama delivered a go-ahead RBI single in sixth inning as front-running Softbank beat Rakuten as the PL wrapped up regular season play.

Lions 7, Buffaloes 0

At Invoice Seibu Dome, Jose Fernandez, Takeya Nakamura and Takumi Kuriyama each homered as the Lions beat Orix.

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