Starter Yang Jien-fu's (陽建福) six shutout innings, coupled with relievers Osvaldo Martinez and Melquiades Rojas' three combined frames of stellar relief, propelled the second-place Sinon Bulls past the league-leading President Lions in a 2-0 triumph in Tainan on Saturday.
The win not only salvaged a 2-2 series split for the Bulls, it kept the heat on the Lions in their quest to win the second half for the automatic 1-0 lead in the upcoming Championship Series.
Slugger Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan's (張泰山) towering solo shot over the right-center fence broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth and gave the winner of the 2003 Most Valuable Player award 20 homers for the season to lead the league. Chang also holds huge leads over the next best hitter in total RBIs with 84 (59) and game-winning hits with 15 (9), making him a strong contender to repeat as the league's MVP for this year.
The Bulls' 2-0 shutout victory avenged their 4-0 loss on Friday at the hands of Lion second-year man Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen (
Offensively for the Lions, second baseman Yang Tung-yi (
Foreign veteran pitchers came through for the Brother Elephants in their three-game series against the Macoto Cobras as the defending champs took two out of three to remain within three games of the Lions.
After dropping Thursday's series opener by a whopping 6-0 final, the Elephants called on Japanese starter Nakagomi Sin to the mound in Game 2 on Friday in search for the series equalizer. The 34-year-old former Hanshin Tiger of the Nippon Professional Baseball League promptly responded by blanking the serpents in eight magnificent innings for his 12th win of the year. Sin's dominance off the mound made things quite easy for the Elephant lineup, which managed to squeeze a pair of runs off Cobra newcomer Michael Lyons on a two-run double by short stop Chen Rei-cheng (陳瑞振) in the 2-0 final. The American righty has been brilliant in all three of his starts (ERA of 1.157), but remains winless (0-2) thus far as his mates have managed to provide only one run on offense in the 20-plus innings that he has pitched.
The Cobras made things interesting by taking a brief 3-2 lead in Sunday's series finale at Tienmu on cleanup man Hsieh Jia-shien's (謝佳賢) two-run dinger off Elephant starter Jonathan Hurst in the top of the third, but Elephant catcher Chen Rei-chang's (陳瑞昌) two-run double in the bottom of the same inning would quickly reverse the Cobras' fortune and put the Elephants up for good in the 7-3 decision.
Hurst upped to his league-leading victory total to 16 with another gutsy performance, despite experiencing some obvious discomfort in his back which limited the veteran to just five innings of work for the game.
The La New Bears successfully defended their home turf by taking the deciding Game 3 of their three-game home stand against the Chinatrust Whales behind another strong effort by rookie lefty Wu Si-yo (