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Roki Sasaki struck out eight over six scoreless innings to outpitch fellow rookie Hiroya Miyagi and lead the Chiba Lotte Marines to a crucial 6-1 win over the Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes on Thursday.

The win at Orix’s Kyocera Dome Osaka moved second-place Lotte to within a half-game of the Buffaloes.

Sasaki (3-2) took the mound in the bottom of the first with a three-run lead after Brandon Laird drove in the first run of the game for the third straight night.

The Marines’ batters were able to get a lot of good swings against Miyagi (12-4), who surrendered a one-out first-inning single and a walk before doubles by Laird and Adeiny Hechavarria made it 3-0 Lotte.

Sasaki was helped by some outstanding defense to hold Orix to five hits and a walk.

“My control wasn’t that good, so I tried to compensate for that by throwing harder,” Sasaki said. “This was a game we couldn’t afford to lose, so I’m glad I could shut our opponents down.”

Trailing 6-0 in the ninth, the Buffaloes scored a consolation run on Takahiro Okada’s 16th home run.

Hawks 6, Eagles 5

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, pinch-hitter Keizo Kawashima’s RBI triple snapped an eighth-inning tie and lifted fourth-place SoftBank to a win.

Lions 3, Fighters 0

At Sapporo Dome, Takeya Nakamura homered twice and drove in all of the Seibu runs in a win over last-place Nippon Ham.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 3, Giants 0

At Tokyo Dome, back-to-back RBI doubles by Yutaro Itayama and Seiya Kinami broke a scoreless ninth-inning tie and lifted the Central League’s second-place club over third-place Yomiuri. The Tigers trail the first-place Tokyo Yakult Swallows by two games.

Swallows 1, Dragons 1

At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, reserve catcher Iori Katsura tripled in a seventh-inning run to bring Chunichi from behind in a tie with Yakult.

Carp 5, BayStars 3

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Daichi Osera (9-5) allowed two runs over six innings as fourth-place Hiroshima moved to within 4½-games of third place and the CL’s final playoff spot.

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