Chang Hsien-chih tossed 6-1/3 innings of shutout ball to help the Macoto Cobras blank the La New Bears 1-0 in Sinjhuang on Tuesday night, starting off the four-game series between the two former Taiwan Major League (TML) clubs for the week with a close win.
The rookie right-hander, who was pulled one out into the seventh because of a leg cramp, missed what could have been his first career complete-game shutout win. But thanks to bullpen mates Lee Ming-jin and Felix Villegas' combined 2-2/3 innings of perfect relief, he still earned the big "W" to improve to 3-1 for the season.
Neither offense was able to produce a run through the first three frames, with Chang and his counterpart Hsu Chih-hua getting key outs with runners in scoring position to keep the game a scoreless tie. Then came the one run in the bottom of the fourth for the serpents on a sacrifice fly by Dominican slugger Rudy Pemberton that turned out to be the pivotal point in the game, as Chang and Hsu worked swiftly to continue their mastery over the opposing hitters.
The shutout was only the second of the year for the Bears with a lineup that includes four of the league's top 10 hitters: Todd Betts (with a batting average of .393), Chen Chin-fong (.348 BA), Shih Chih-wei (.344 BA) and Pan Chung-wei (.302).
Taking the tough complete-game loss was Hsu, whose eight innings of one-run ball would have easily qualified him for a win given the Bears' league-leading 5.06 runs-per-game scoring average.
Bulls 5, Whales 4
Hsu Guo-long's one-run single off Chinatrust Whales reliever Edwin Minaya in the seventh put the Sinon Bulls up for good in a 5-4 decision at Douliou on Tuesday to start the defending champs' week on a high note.
In a game that featured four lead changes, the Bulls got the final laugh with a two-run seventh on the strength of cleanup man Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan's game-tying RBI double before Hsu followed with the game-winning hit to deliver the victory.
After the Bulls drew first blood with two runs in the opening inning for a quick 2-0 lead, the Whales were able to answer with three runs of their own in the third to take a 3-2 lead. The Bulls would even things up in the fourth at three-all on outfielder Tseng Hua-wei's run-scoring single before the Whales gained a 4-3 advantage again in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by first-baseman Wang Hsin-min to set the stage for the Bulls' rally.
Sinon starter Alfredo Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic was credited with the win for allowing four runs (one earned) on six hits over eight innings of work in his fourth win of the season, with reliever Kuo Yong-chih picking up the save by retiring the side in a perfect ninth.
As for the Whales, Minaya was hit with the loss for surrendering the game-winning run in the seventh. He allowed two hits and a walk to the four batters that he faced in a poor outing.
Elephants 7, Lions 3
Behind home runs by Chu Hong-seng and Tsai Fong-an, the Brother Elephants easily handled the President Lions in Tainan on Wednesday with a 7-3 win to snap a three-game losing streak.
Rookie outfielder Chen Guan-ren also knocked in a pair of runs on a 3-for-5 night in his ninth multi-hit game to up his average to .321 for the year. Starter Joey Dawley of the US overcame a shaky start with seven innings of three-run ball on seven hits for the win, beating the Lions' Lin Yueh-ping in a game in which the home cats seemed flat for the most part.