Jonathan Hurst's eight innings of one-run ball helped the Brother Elephants beat the red-hot La New Bears in a 6-3, series-opening win at Kaohsiung on Tuesday.
The victory cooled off the streaky Bears, winners in 10 of their past 12 games, and kept the Elephants in the hunt for the second-half title at three games behind the league-leading Macoto Cobras.
Hurst, who carried a shutout into the eighth inning for his team before surrendering a solo home run to La New slugger Lin Chih-sheng, allowed a run on seven hits, while fanning six and walking three for his team-leading ninth win of the season.
The game began with the Elephants striking first in the top of the second when right fielder Hsu Chih-wei's sharp grounder went through the five-hole of La New third baseman Victor Rodriguez to score the runner on third for the Elephants' first run of the game, before first baseman Hsu Ming-lan followed with an RBI single to shallow-left to put the Elephants up 2-0.
The Elephants would double their lead an inning later on run-scoring singles by third baseman Wang Jin-yong's and catcher Chen Rei-chang to chase Bears starter Lee Fong-hua before a sudden downpour called for a temporary delay in the top of the fourth.
Neither club was able to cross the plate after the rain delay until the top of the eighth, when Hsu Chih-wei and Hsu Ming-lan delivered again for their team on consecutive scoring drives, this time off La New reliever Hsu Chih-hua to give the Elephants a comfortable 6-0 advantage.
After Lin's homer off Hurst broke up the shutout in the eighth, the Bears would add a pair of runs off Elephants reliever Hsiao Ren-wen in the ninth to make it 6-3 before closer Wu Bao-shien got Lin to pop out at short to end the game.
La New starter Lee (the normal setup man for the Bears) lost for the first time in just his third start this season over a subpar performance. The league's Pitcher of the Month in August yielded four runs on seven hits in 2-1/3 frames as he fell to 3-4 for the year.
Bears 3, Elephants 2
Pan Chung-wei's game-winning solo blast off Elephants reliever Wu Bao-shien in the bottom of the eleventh broke a 2-all tie in Kaohsiung on Wednesday as the home Bears overcame a two-run deficit to win by a 3-2 final.
Second baseman Chu Hong-seng got the Elephants on the board with a two-run single off Bears starter Chris Wright in the top of the third and saw the Bears half the 2-0 lead in the bottom of the same inning on shortstop Shih Chih-wei's sacrifice fly to deep-center.
La New would knot the game up at 2-all in the bottom of the fourth, this time on another sacrifice fly by catcher Chen Fong-ming that scored Pan, who led off the inning with a single and took third base on a double by Venezuelan newcomer Eduardo Rios.
Wright looked sharp in his fourth straight start, giving up a pair of runs on six hits while striking out a season-high nine over 10 solid innings. He missed the win by an inning as game-winner Hsu Wen-hsiung started the eleventh in relief of Wright after he had thrown 132 pitches in a 2-2 deadlock.
Wu, who had saved the day for the Elephants with Tuesday night's win, was dealt the tough loss for allowing the game-winner on Pan's late-game heroics.
Cobras 14, Lions 0
In a makeup contest between the Macoto Cobras and the President Lions at Luodong on Monday, the Cobras blanked the Lions in a 14-0 decision that marked the worst beating of the year for the big cats.