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Alfredo Despaigne hit a tie-breaking solo homer off reliever Dennis Sarfate on Wednesday as the Chiba Lotte Marines knocked off the defending Pacific League champs 4-3.

“I’m really happy with my first home run and that it came off a team as strong as SoftBank and contributed to a win,” Despaigne said. “Sarfate is one of the elite pitchers in Japan, so I’m really happy to hit it off him.”

The Hawks, who banged out 11 hits and drew three walks, held the Marines to four hits, but three of them cleared the fences before a crowd of 30,016 at Yafuoku Dome.

With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Hawks loaded the bases with one out for PL MVP Yuki Yanagita. But the left-handed slugger fouled a pitch off his toe before grounding into a force at home against lefty Takahiro Fujioka. Right-hander Tatsuya Uchi then entered to face right-handed-hitting cleanup hitter Seiichi Uchikawa, who flied out to the warning track.

Uchi (1-0) retired all four batters he faced to earn the win, while closer Yuji Nishino retired the Hawks in order to earn his fourth save for the league-leading Marines.

The Marines overcame an early 2-0 deficit on a two-run, third-inning home run by Shogo Nakamura and tied it 3-3 in the seventh on Seiya “Aja” Inoue’s first homer of the season.

Eagles 5, Buffaloes 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Zelous Wheeler went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs, while Jonny Gomes homered and drew a bases-loaded walk as Tohoku Rakuten held off last-place Orix. Manabu Mima (2-0) delivered some gutsy pitching, allowing two runs, one earned, on eight hits and a walk over 7⅔ innings to get the win for the Eagles.

Lions 5, Fighters 2

At Saitama’s Seibu Prince Dome, the Lions’ Ryoma Nogami (1-1) allowed a run on Brandon Laird’s second homer of the season but went on to win after Hokkaido Nippon Ham starter Anthony Bass (0-2) let in two runs on an errant second-inning pickoff throw.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 3, BayStars 0

At Nagoya Dome, Ryosuke Oguma (2-0) struck out five in a one-hitter for his first career shutout and Shuhei Takahashi hit a two-run, first-inning homer as Chunichi blanked offensively challenged Yokohama for the second straight night.

Giants 3, Tigers 0

At Tokyo Dome, Tomoyuki Sugano (2-0) threw a six-hit shutout, reached base three times and scored a run as the CL-leading Giants defeated Hanshin.

Carp 6, Swallows 3

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, last season’s CL ERA leader Kris Johnson (1-1) allowed three runs over 8⅓ innings and had two of Hiroshima’s 10 hits in a win over Tokyo Yakult.

Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada, whose 38 home runs led Japan last season, hit his fourth in the losing effort.

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