Baseball: Masanori Ishikawa and Munetaka Murakami lead Swallows to 8th straight win

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Masanori Ishikawa of the Yakult Swallows plays against the Hiroshima Carp in their Central League match at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo on June 19, 2022. (kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Masanori Ishikawa threw seven solid innings and Munetaka Murakami hit a homer twice as the Yakult Swallows, leaders in the Central League, claimed their eighth straight win, an 8-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp on Sunday.

Ishikawa (4-3) gave up two first-inning runs on an RBI single from Ryosuke Kikuchi and Ryan McBroom’s seventh home run. But the 42-year-old left-hander settled into allowing three runs in his longest hill stint of the season.

“My teammates encourage me with their defense, running support and the great work of the helpers coming out of the bullpen,” said Ishikawa.

The Swallows split in the second game against Allen Kuri (3-5) on a Murakami leadoff walk and a home run by 40-year-old Norichika Aoki.

“I can always count on old man Aoki,” Ishikawa said.

Murakami broke the tie in the third with his 20th home run of the year. Yakult took a 5-2 lead in fifth after Yasutaka Shiomi’s 11th and Murakami’s 21st homer.

Ishikawa gave up the carp’s final run on Tsubasa Aizawa’s second home run in the seventh.

The CL’s second-placed Yomiuri Giants avoided falling 10 games behind Yakult when Matt Shoemaker (3-4) allowed a seven-inning run in a 5-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons while the third-placed Hanshin Tigers were 7-4 lost the DeNA BayStars.

In the Pacific League, first-place SoftBank Hawks beat second-place Rakuten Eagles 4-1 after six excellent innings from southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1). The 41-year-old former Chicago Cub knocked out the first 16 batsmen before allowing his only baserunner to hit a solo home run. The win was Wada’s 150th between the major leagues of Japan and America.

The Seibu Lions rebounded on Saturday with a 3-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes, despite scoring just three goals after going clean, while third-placed Lotte Marines defeated Nippon Ham Fighters 4-2.

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