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Baseball: Murakami grand slam lifts Yakult past DeNA

Munetaka Murakami of the Yakult Swallows hits a home run in the first inning of a Central League game against the DeNA BayStars on Sept. 21, 2021, at Yokohama Stadium. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Munetaka Murakami ripped his first grand slam of the season Tuesday, his 36th homer propelling the Yakult Swallows to a 5-2 win over the DeNA BayStars in the Central League.

    Yakult opened the game with three straight singles off DeNA starter Yuya Sakamoto (4-5) before Murakami pulled the lefty's first-pitch breaking ball over the right-field fence at Yokohama Stadium for the decisive lead.

    "I was trying to get a hit from the first pitch. (The breaking ball) wasn't in my mind but I could react well, and it brought the best possible result," Murakami said. "I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it."

    The cleanup tied his personal highs of 36 home runs and 96 RBIs racked up in 2019. Yomiuri Giants slugger Kazuma Okamoto leads the CL in both categories this season with 37 homers and 100 RBIs.

    "I want to get all the individual titles I can," said Murakami, who on Sunday became the youngest Nippon Professional Baseball player to get 100 home runs at the age of 21 years and seven months.

    The previous record was held by former Seibu Lions and Yomiuri Giants star Kazuhiro Kiyohara.

    Tyler Austin's bases-loaded double with no out in the third plated two runs for DeNA but Naomichi Nishiura singled in a run for Yakult in the sixth as the Swallows extended their unbeaten run to seven games, winning four of them.

    Robert Suarez (5-3) picked up the win allowing two runs over five innings on five hits and two walks, striking out three. Sakamoto was tagged with the loss after giving up four runs over two innings on seven hits.

    At Vantelin Doma Nagoya, the CL-leading Hanshin Tigers edged the Chunichi Dragons 3-2 thanks to Seiya Kinami's ninth-inning sacrifice fly, remaining 1-1/2 games ahead of Yakult in second.

    At Mazda Stadium, Hiroki Tokoda (4-3) had a six-hitter as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Yomiuri Giants 2-0.

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