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TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) After being swept in three games by the second-place Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, the front-running Seibu Lions have to play their final four games of the regular season without leadoff hitter Yasuyuki Kataoka.

Kataoka, who leads the Pacific League with 59 stolen bases, was removed from the active roster Wednesday with a right calf injury.

Seibu has a half-game lead over Softbank and a magic number of four for clinching its second PL title in three years.

Kataoka sustained the injury in Monday’s 5-4 loss to Softbank while running the bases.

“Without doubt, Kataoka’s absence hurts us,” Seibu manager Hisanobu Watanabe said. “But we have to face what has happened and move on.”

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