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Baseball: Nakamura boosts Swallows past BayStars and into 1st place

Yuhei Nakamura delivers a tie-breaking pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning for the Yakult Swallows in their 2-1 Central League win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium on Sept. 22, 2021. (Kyodo)

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) -- Yuhei Nakamura's two-out pinch-hit RBI single broke a ninth-inning tie, lifting the Yakult Swallows to a 2-1 win over the DeNA BayStars and into first place in the Central League on Wednesday.

    One of two regulars rested from manager Shingo Takatsu's starting lineup at Yokohama Stadium, Nakamura singled with two on and two out off Yasuaki Yamasaki to put Yakult in front.

    Cleanup hitter Munetaka Murakami singled to open the Swallows' ninth off lefty Edwin Escobar (3-4), who left with two on and one out. Yamasaki entered and retired star slugger Tetsuto Yamada but allowed the tie-breaking run to score on Nakamura's single.

    Swallows setup man Noboru Shimizu (3-5) earned the win by pitching the eighth in relief of starter Yasuhiro Ogawa, and closer Scott McGough finished up, his 22nd save sending Yakult to the top of the CL standings for the first time this season.

    The Swallows lead the Hanshin Tigers on winning percentage points, .571 to .568 after Hanshin's loss to the Chunichi Dragons.

    Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, the Swallows tied it against DeNA starting pitcher Shinichi Onuki on a Domingo Santana RBI double.

    At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Takahiro Matsuba (5-3) worked six scoreless innings for the Dragons, who held on to a 2-1 win over the Tigers.

    At Mazda Stadium, Kazuma Okamoto and Yoshihiro Maru each drove in three runs for the third-place Yomiuri Giants in a 13-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp that kept them two games back of Yakult.

    At Zozo Marine Stadium, Kodai Senga (6-2) allowed a run over 7-2/3 innings as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Pacific League-leading Lotte Marines 4-1.

    At Kyocera Dome Osaka, rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi's bases-loaded triple brought the second-place Orix Buffaloes from behind in a 5-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters that moved Orix to within 2-1/2 games of first place.

    At Metlife Dome, Hideto Asamura's two-run third-inning home run against his former team put the third-place Rakuten Eagles in front for good in a 4-2 win over the Seibu Lions.

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