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Randy Messenger threw eight shutout innings and the Hanshin Tigers scored three late runs to hold off the Chunichi Dragons 3-0 on Friday, retaining to the Central League’s top spot.

Messenger (9-11) allowed six hits without a walk and struck out nine in his 111-pitch outing, outlasting counterpart Drew Naylor (2-3).

“It’s one of those games where whoever makes the first mistake was going to come out the loser so I definitely didn’t want to make that mistake,” Messenger said.

Takashi Toritani broke the ice in the eighth, a one-out double off Naylor’s first pitch driving in a runner from second. The right-hander got the hook after issuing a walk, and reliever Takuya Asao let the CL leaders double the lead on a two-out RBI single from Kosuke Fukudome with runners on the corners.

Naylor allowed two runs on four hits, four walks and a hit batsman over 7-1/3 innings. He struck out five in his 108-pitch outing.

Hanshin added another run in the ninth, Ryota Imanari and Yamato Maeda both hitting singles before Imanari scored on a grounder as the Tigers stayed half a game ahead of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

Swallows 4 Carp 2

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tetsuto Yamada drove in Tokyo’s Yakult’s first run with a one-out RBI single and Lastings Milledge ripped a two-out, two-run home run off Kris Johnson (10-7) in the first inning.

Masanori Ishikawa (9-9) took the win after holding Hiroshima to one run in five innings.

Giants 8, BayStars 7

At Yokohama Stadium, Shuichi Murata hit the decisive RBI single off Yokohama’s Tomoya Mikami in the ninth after Shinnosuke Abe had tied the game for Yomiuri with a one-out RBI single.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Eagles 6, Hawks 5

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Zelous Wheeler doubled in a run before Ginji Akaminai plated two runs off Fukuoka Softbank’s Yuito Mori (4-1) in a three-run eighth to turn the game around for Tohoku Rakuten.

Lions 2, Marines 1 (10)

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Seibu’s Yutaro Osaki broke a 1-1 tie with a one-out RBI double in the 10th off Naoya Masuda (2-2).

The Lions’ Ken Togame and Chiba Lotte’s Hideaki Wakui allowed a run on six hits in seven and eight innings, respectively.

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