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MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) Takeru Imamura threw three scoreless innings, building his case for a spot in the starting rotation as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Yomiuri Giants 4-1 to kick off preseason play on Saturday.

Imamura, a second-year right-hander, struck out three, walked none and allowed two hits — singles by Michihiro Ogasawara and Yoshinobu Takahashi in the first and second innings, respectively, at Sun Marine Stadium.

Yomiuri left-hander Norihito Kaneto was equally impressive over three spotless frames, yielding just one hit.

Masato Akamatsu homered in a 2-for-3 outing for the Carp. The Giants will take on the Senichi Hoshino-led Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in an exhibition game in Naha on Sunday.

Six games are scheduled for next Saturday, with a total of 102 games on tap through March 21.

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