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Baseball: Swallows' youngster Murakami, veteran Ishikawa down Giants

Munetaka Murakami, right. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Slugging youngster Munetaka Murakami's two-run homer made a winner of veteran Masanori Ishikawa, who allowed a run over six innings in a 2-1 victory over the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants on Wednesday.

    With the Giants' loss and a win by the second-place Chunichi Dragons, who now trail by 9-1/2 games, Yomiuri's magic number to clinch the CL pennant remained at seven.

    The 40-year-old Ishikawa (2-7) walked two and surrendered three hits, including a fourth-inning home run to Giants captain Hayato Sakamoto. Three Swallows relievers kept the visitors off the board at Jingu Stadium, although closer Taichi Ishiyama was made to work overtime in a 35-pitch ninth to earn his 17th save.

    "I really have been a dead weight this season," Ishikawa said after his 173rd career victory. "I keep working hard, preparing as well as I can to keep us in games, but this year I simply haven't been able to pitch as well as I know I can."

    Murakami, who was the CL's 2019 rookie of the year as a 19-year-old, hit his 24th homer of the season in the sixth off Giants starter Yuki Takahashi (1-1). The left-handed slugger went down low and improbably lofted it out to left for an opposite-field home run.

    "I made an out in the first inning with the bases loaded when I had a chance to make Ishikawa's job a lot easier," Murakami said. "I went to the plate in the sixth and I really wanted, somehow, to give us the lead."

    After Noboru Shimizu and Scott McGough kept the Giants quiet in the seventh and eighth, Ishiyama surrendered a one-out single to Sakamoto and walked cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto. A wild pitch put the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position before he struck out two-time CL MVP Yoshihiro Maru for the second out.

    The right-hander battled Akihiro Wakabayashi, needing nine pitches to strike him out on a high fastball.

    At Nagoya Dome, Dayan Viciedo brought the Chunichi Dragons back from a run down in the seventh with a three-run home run in their 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars.

    At Koshien Stadium, Jefty Marte returned to action for the first time since July 4 and belted a two-run homer that lifted the Hanshin Tigers to a 2-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp.

    In the Pacific League, Kodai Senga (9-6) allowed an unearned run over 6-1/3 innings and the SoftBank Hawks clobbered the Nippon Ham Fighters bullpen in a 9-1 win. The Hawks' magic number to clinch their first pennant since 2017 is eight.

    At MetLife Dome, the Seibu Lions' Shuta Tonosaki scored the winning run on a ball hit by Kakeru Yamanobe off Lotte Marines closer Naoya Masuda (3-4) in a 2-1 win for the second straight night.

    At Sendai's Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Koji Oshiro's ninth-inning homer off Yuki Matsui (4-5) lifted the Orix Buffaloes past the Rakuten Eagles 6-5.

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