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Baseball: Swallows' slugger Murakami clobbers Dragons

Yakult Swallows cleanup hitter Munetaka Murakami watches his second home run of the game, an eighth-inning two-run blast in the Central League leaders' 10-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Vantelin Dome in Nagoya, on June 23, 2022. (Kyodo)

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Munetaka Murakami hit a pair of home runs, drove in six runs and scored three in the Central League-leading Yakult Swallows' 10-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons on Thursday.

    The win extended the defending Japan Series champs' CL lead to 10 games over the Yomiuri Giants, who fell 7-5 to the DeNA BayStars.

    Murakami opened the scoring at Vantelin Dome Nagoya, one of Japan's toughest home run parks, with his 22nd homer and fourth grand slam of the year.

    The Swallows' 22-year-old cleanup hitter singled in the third, doubled and scored in the seventh, and blasted his 23rd homer in the eighth with a man on.

    "He's not just the No. 4 hitter," Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu said. "He's the absolute center of our lineup."

    The team's No. 3 hitter Tetsuto Yamada doubled in three runs in the fourth inning to make it a 7-0 game, while Hirotoshi Takanashi (5-3) struck out nine over the distance in a six-hit shutout.

    Elsewhere in the CL, the Hanshin Tigers remained winless against the third-place Hiroshima Carp after their 3-3, 12-inning tie. The Carp lead the season series 9-0, while the teams have drawn twice.

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