• Kyodo

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Takahiro Arai reached 2,000 career hits as the 39-year-old helped the Hiroshima Carp defeat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 11-3 in the Central League on Tuesday.

With the Carp leading 3-0 after consecutive second-inning solo homers, Arai doubled in a run in the top of the third before 26,593 at Jingu Stadium. He also singled in the seventh inning ahead of Seiya Suzuki’s second homer of the game, a grand slam.

Arai began his career with Hiroshima in 1999 after the Carp made him their sixth-round draft pick out of Tokyo’s Komazawa University, which plays its league games at Jingu. He left as a free agent after the 2007 season and played seven seasons with the CL’s Hanshin Tigers before returning to the Carp last year. He is the 47th player to reach 2,000 hits in Nippon Professional Baseball.

“I’m happy because thanks to my teammates I could reach this plateau in a winning effort,” Arai said. “Before the game, I felt the same as usual, but hearing the fans’ support in my first at-bat, I got nervous (and flied out).”

But after the home runs from Brad Eldred, Suzuki and Shota Dobayashi, Arai lightened up.

“Seiya Suzuki said before the game, he’d hit two homers and he actually did,” Arai said. “The young guys on this team are great. It’s a lot of fun.

“I played here for four years in university and it’s a park that holds a lot of memories for me. I also owe a lot to my parents for making me strong.”

Kris Johnson (3-2) held the Swallows hitless until the fourth, when he surrendered a leadoff walk before Tetsuto Yamada hit his eighth home run of the season, briefly taking over the sole CL lead before Eldred went deep again in the ninth.

Yakult southpaw Yoshihisa Naruse (2-2) took the loss after allowing five runs in four innings.

Hiroki Kuroda, who played alongside Arai during some of the Carp’s darkest days, also rejoined the club last year after a good major league career.

“We had a period when we failed together,” said the 41-year-old Kuroda. “Because of that, this is deeply moving. It’s proof of how long he’s been on the front lines.”

Giants 5, Tigers 3

At Koshien Stadium, Hayato Takagi (2-1) allowed two unearned runs in 6-1/3 innings and Yomiuri overturned a two-run deficit, solving Hanshin right-hander Shintaro Fujinami (3-1) in a five-hit, four-run sixth.

Dragons 7, BayStars 3

At Yokohama Stadium, catcher Shota Sugiyama homered to help Chunichi overcome a three-run deficit against the BayStars. He then drove in the tie-breaking run in a three-run seventh.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 3, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, Kohei Arihara (3-0) allowed a run in eight innings and Haruki Nishikawa broke a 1-1, fifth-inning tie with an RBI triple and scored on a Takuya Nakashima’s squeeze as Hokkaido Nippon Ham beat Tohoku Rakuten.

Marines 5, Lions 2

At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Prince Dome, Ayumu Ishikawa (2-1) changed speeds well, allowing just a run in seven innings, and Alfredo Despaigne brought Chiab Lotte from behind with a two-run, fourth-inning homer in a win over Seibu.

Hawks 9, Buffaloes 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yuya Hasegawa hit a two-run, game-tying homer and added a two-run double as Fukuoka SoftBank overcame a two-run deficit to pound Orix behind six strong innings from Rick van den Hurk (4-0), who improved his career record in Japan to 13-0.

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