Baseball: Murakami shoots CL-leading Swallows past Lions

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Munetaka Murakami of the Yakult Swallows hits a double home run in the sixth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Seibu Lions June 4, 2022 at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo. (kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Munetaka Murakami scored two runs to home Central League leaders Yakult Swallows from behind in two runs in a 3-2 Interleague win over the Seibu Lions on Saturday.

In front of a crowd of 29,538 at the historic Jingu Stadium, Murakami capped Yakult’s comeback with his 16th home run against high-flyer Keisuke Honda (1-1) as the Swallows came back from a two-run deficit. The win left the Swallows three games ahead of the Yomiuri Giants, who won 2-1 over the Lotte Marines.

After Yakult trailed 2-0 in game five, Murakami hit a leadoff single, his team’s first, and showed some solid basic running ability before scoring with Yuhei Nakamura’s single.

“On the days I didn’t score, there were always some teammates producing to try to catch up,” said Murakami, the Swallows’ cleanup hitter. “Today was my day to fill the gap.”

The Lions, currently fourth in the Pacific League, opened the first hit in the second of Aito Takeda’s third home run, followed by Yakult starter Keiji Takahashi, who made a run in the fourth run but blocked bases.

AJ Cole (2-0), the Swallows’ freshman successor, won, and closer Scott McGough recorded his 16th save.

The CL won five of the six Interliga games on Saturday. Shugo Maki drove in five runs in DeNA BayStars’ 6-1 win over the Rakuten Eagles while the Chunichi Dragons beat the SoftBank Hawks 4-2 and Koyo Aoyagi (6-1) won eight innings to eight at the Hanshin Tigers’ 3-0 win over Nippon Ham Fighters.

Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto (6-3) won seven innings in a 3-2 win over CL’s Hiroshima Carp.

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