Baseball: Murakami homers help Swallows snap brief losing streak

Munetaka Murakami belted his 43rd and 44th home runs to power the Central League-leading Yakult Swallows to a 7-2 win over the last-place Chunichi Dragons on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing skid.

The win at Vantelin Dome Nagoya allowed the Swallows to prevent any further whittling of their lead by the DeNA BayStars, who started the day five games back.

Murakami also had a single and a walk, scored three runs and drove in three.

Yakult starting pitcher Juri Hara (7-4) allowed a run over six innings to earn the win. Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (6-7) struck out nine over 6-2/3 innings but allowed six runs.

Reigning CL MVP Murakami walked and scored on a Jose Osuna single, and Ogasawara later hit Hara with a pitch with the bases loaded in a two-run second inning. Murakami homered in the third to make it 3-0.

"I wanted to make sure I made contact out in front and hit it on the sweet spot," the 22-year-old Murakami said. "The second one was also a really good one. When I hit home runs, it is proof that my swing is right, and makes me want to hit more."

Rookie Hironori Miyoshi's first career homer for Chunichi made it 3-1 in the third, but Murakami's second homer capped a three-run Swallows seventh and chased Ogasawara. Masami Ishigaki homered for Chunichi in the ninth to close out the scoring.

Elsewhere in the CL, Shintaro Fujinami (1-2) allowed a run over seven innings for the Hanshin Tigers in a 5-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

© Kyodo News