Sat, Nov 13, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Lions take 3-2 series lead

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Lions closer Michael Garcia is congratulated by his teammates after 1-2/3 innings of relief work. He retired all five hitters he faced for the win in Game 5 of the Taiwan Series.

PHOTO: CPBL

Cheng Jau-han (鄭兆行) had a chance to be the hero for the Sinon Bulls in Game 5 of the Chinese Professional Baseball League's Taiwan Series with his stellar performance.

In addition to making numerous spectacular defensive plays to keep the Lions off the board, the all-star shortstop accounted for both of the Bulls' runs with an RBI single in the bottom of the first and a towering solo blast to deep-left in the bottom of the fourth to give his team a 2-0 lead through the first seven innings of play.

Instead, Cheng will be remem-bered as the goat of the game for failing to field a grounder that would have wrapped up the win for the Bulls in a dramatic 4-2 final in favor of the President Lions, giving the Lions a 3-2 edge in the series.

With runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the ninth, right fielder Wang Chuan-jia (王傳家) drove a knee-high, 2-2 pitch from Bulls reliever Ho Jee-shien (何紀賢) to shallow-left that dropped for a base hit with the relay throw just missing the runner at the plate to score the game-tying run.

Pinch hitter Chen "the Terrorist" Cheng-shien (陳政賢) then followed with a high chopper to short that Cheng could have fielded on one hop, but instead decided to wait for the second hop, allowing the ball to skid past him for an error that scored the Lions' winning runs.

"All the credits in the world to Wang Chuan-jia for his textbook maneuver in blocking Cheng Jau-han's view -- it was an excellent piece of base running that gave us the advantage," Chen said after the game.

Closer Michael Garcia was the winning pitcher for his 1-2/3 innings of perfect relief work, retiring all five hitters he faced, while an overused Jeff Andra suffered the heartbreaking loss.

Manager Liu Rong-hua's (劉榮華) decision to replace his first reliever, Melquiades Rojas, after the former Major Leaguer had yielded a run in the eighth and go with a tired Andra (who pitched nearly three innings in relief on the previous night) instead of a fresh Ho Jee-shien, will be the sore subject discussed among the puzzled Bulls fans, especially if the Bulls become only the second team in league history to lose a title after having won the first two games of the series.

"I thank my players for not hanging up their towels and fighting until the very end," Hsieh Chang-hern (謝長亨) said after the game. "This was by far the most emotional win I've ever experienced.

"Just when everyone thought we were through after the first two losses, we came back and showed'm what we were really made of."

The Lions have overcome an 0-2 deficit to go up 3-2 in the series heading into tonight's potential title-clinching Game 6 in Tainan.

The home team has not won a game in all five contests. Only a dramatic win by the Bulls that forces a decisive Game 7 can top what has already transpired in this year's roller--coaster ride.

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