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Baseball: Yamaguchi fans 10, drives in run, leads Giants past Tigers

Shun Yamaguchi of the Yomiuri Giants (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Shun Yamaguchi struck out 10 and drove in a run in the Central League on Sunday to help lead the Yomiuri Giants to a 6-3 win over the Hanshin Tigers.

Before he started to struggle in the sixth inning, Yamaguchi retired 12 straight at Tokyo Dome on the way to improving his record to 12-2. The win was Yomiuri's fourth straight and guaranteed a winning record against Hanshin for the eighth-straight year.

Tigers starter Onelki Garcia (2-7) gave up three runs on four hits in the fourth, including a two-run triple from Daiki Masuda that put the Giants on the board and Yamaguchi's RBI double.

"I was able to do what I'm good at," said Masuda, who drew a walk and stole two consecutive bases in the sixth.

A day after making his first career start for the top team, the 26-year-old Masuda keyed the Giants' offense.

"I was hoping I could find the gap (with my triple), and it fell in a lucky spot for me," said Masuda, who has so far primarily been used as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. "I was driven to produce to repay the faith shown in me by putting me in the starting lineup."

Kazuma Okamoto crushed a solo shot in the fifth off Tigers reliever Masumi Hamachi to make it 4-0 before Yamaguchi got into trouble in the next three frames.

The 32-year-old right-hander yielded an RBI infield single to Kento Itohara in the sixth before escaping a bases-loaded jam, and exited with two outs in the seventh after allowing back-to-back run-scoring hits to Seiya Kinami and Kosuke Fukudome.

In the bottom of the frame, Alex Guerrero took a high fastball from Pierce Johnson deep to left center for a two-run double to put the Giants up by three.

The Tigers blew a big opportunity in the eighth as Kazuto Taguchi coaxed an inning-ending groundout after veteran righty Kan Otake loaded the bases. Taguchi got two outs in the ninth and Hirokazu Sawamura fanned former big leaguer Yangervis Solarte to close out the victory.

Elsewhere in the CL, Jose Lopez came off the bench and his seventh-inning solo home run decided the DeNA BayStars' 1-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp, as Shota Imanaga (11-5) struck out 10 to outduel Allen Kuri (6-6) at Yokohama Stadium.

At Jingu Stadium, David Buchanan (3-6) threw eight scoreless innings, and reliever David Huff survived a ninth-inning scare as the Yakult Swallows outlasted the Chunichi Dragons 3-2.

In the Pacific League, Kohei Suzuki (3-5) held the visitors to a run at Kyocera Dome and third-inning RBIs from Shuhei Fukuda and Shuhei Kojima kept the Orix Buffaloes afloat for a 2-1 win over the Lotte Marines.

At Yafuoku Dome, back-to-back, seventh-inning RBI doubles by Nobuhiro Matsuda and Kenji Akashi brought the SoftBank Hawks from behind in a 5-4 win over the Seibu Lions.

At Sapporo Dome, the Rakuten Eagles put together 7-2/3 impressive innings, and Hideto Asamura's two-run, seventh-inning homer tied it and the Nippon Ham Fighters survived some late scores to finish the game after 12 innings in a 4-4 tie.

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