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Baseball: Nakamura, Yamakawa go long as Lions maul Marines 7-0

Takeya Nakamura of the Seibu Lions hits a three-run home run in the sixth inning of a Pacific League game against the Lotte Marines at Belluna Dome in Tokorozawa, eastern Japan, on May 5, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Struggling power hitter Takeya Nakamura delivered a three-run homer while teammate Hotaka Yamakawa launched his Pacific League-leading 11th big fly on Thursday as the Seibu Lions took down the Lotte Marines 7-0.

    Floundering at the plate since the start of the season, Nakamura finally cleared the Belluna Dome fence for his first long bomb of the year in the sixth, putting the Lions up 4-0.

    With two out and one on, Lotte starter Manabu Mima (0-4) intentionally walked the hot-hitting Yamakawa, bringing 38-year-old designated hitter Nakamura to the plate.

    The 21-year pro got hold of Mima's changeup and sent it several rows back behind left, delighting the Lions faithful, including many younger fans enjoying Japan's Children's Day national holiday.

    "I'm glad I hit it while there were a lot of children here watching," said Nakamura, who has averaged a career-low .167 through 26 games. "I haven't pulled my weight since the start of the season. I'm still batting in the .100s, so I need to keep bringing my average up."

    Yamakawa's solo homer came amid a three-run rally against the Marines' second reliever Yusuke Azuma in the eighth. Shuta Tonosaki scored Junichiro Kishi with a sacrifice fly before Yamakawa belted Azuma's fastball deep to left for a 6-0 lead.

    Submarine right-hander Kaito Yoza (2-1) got the win after frustrating the visiting lineup in his six-inning start. He allowed just four hits and no walks, while striking out three.

    In other PL action, the first-place Rakuten Eagles beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 8-4 and the SoftBank Hawks defeated the Orix Buffaloes 9-3.

    In the Central League, the Hiroshima Carp blanked the first-place Yomiuri Giants 3-0 after American right-hander Drew Anderson (1-0) flirted with a no-hitter on the way to his first win. He fanned seven and allowed just one hit and no walks over seven innings.

    Elsewhere in the CL, the DeNA BayStars overpowered the Chunichi Dragons 10-2 and the Hanshin Tigers earned a 3-2 comeback win over the Yakult Swallows.

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