Sun, Jun 25, 2006 - Page 21 News List

Bears claw toward trophy

PRO BASEBALLThe La New Bears overcame the Chinatrust Whales and the Macoto Cobras in an ongoing chase of the league-leading President Lions for the first-half title

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER AND CNA , TAIPEIAP, NEW YORKAGENCIES, BOSTON AND CHICAGO

Yankees starter Wang Chien-ming pitches during the first inning against the Marlins at Yankee Stadium in New York on Friday.

PHOTO: AP

A pair of wins over the Chinatrust Whales and the Macoto Cobras on Thursday and Friday, respectively, kept the La New Bears in contention with the league-leading President Lions as the race for the first-half title in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League goes down the wire.

Friday night's 6-1 Bears victory over the Cobras in Kaohsiung had the hosts taking a 2-0 lead in the opening inning on shortstop Lin Chih-sheng's RBI single and third baseman Todd Betts' sacrifice-fly off Cobras starter Felix Villegas of Puerto Rico.

The two runs proved to be ample for Bears starter Kenny Rayborn as the staff ace went the distance in a one-run gem for his ninth win of the season, tying him with fellow lefty Wu Si-yo for the lead in total wins in the CPBL.

The American right-hander actually took a shutout two outs into the ninth inning before surrendering an RBI single to Cobras pinch-hitter Amaury Garcia of the Dominican Republic.

Offensively for the Bears, leadoff man Shih Chih-wei and outfielder Lu Jung-hsiung both went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to account for the bulk of the scoring.

Taking the loss for the Cobras was Villegas, who also threw a complete-game for his team as a shorthanded Cobras staff looked to conserve as many fresh arms as possible, playing its seventh game in as many days.

Bears 11, Whales 3

The explosive Bears lineup took no mercy on the Whales in Hsinchu on Thursday, as it picked apart the Whales pitching by drawing eight walks on top of 13 hits to run away with an 11-3 triumph.

Bears starter Lee Fong-hua was not particularly sharp in his first start of the year, as the longtime reliever yielded three first-inning runs before being pulled in the third.

But it did not matter much for the Bears, because rookie righty Tsai Ying-fong more than filled in for Lee with five innings of one-hit relief to halt all scoring attempts by the marine creatures in a hurry before Ramon Morel and Hsu Chih-hua combined to retire the final five Whales for the win.

Doing the damage with their bats were Shih, outfielder Tsai Jien-wei, and Canadian slugger Betts, who had multi-hit games to lead an offense that averages over five runs per game.

Lions 7, Elephants 0

Behind a complete-game effort by Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen, the President Lions blanked the Brother Elephants 7-0 in Tianmu on Friday for their 17th win in a row.

American righty Joey Dawley was no match for Pan in his shortest outing of the year with three innings of five-run ball on eight hits. The three errors by the Elephants defense, two of which led to four unearned runs for the Lions, only added insult to injury to the Elephants as they fell behind 5-0 after a five-run second inning that saw the Lions send 10 batters to the plate.

The four-hit, complete-game shutout was Pan's first of the year, and his third in the three-plus seasons that he has been in the league, upping the former Rookie of the Year's season mark to 7-2 while dropping the team's magic number to win the first-half title to two, meaning another win, or a loss/tie by the Bears, and the Lions would clinch the title.

The loss by Dawley was his third of the season as he dropped to a 4-3 record.

Bulls 7, Cobras 0

The Sinon Bulls greeted their fans at home with high-flying form by trouncing the Cobras 7-0 after the grand reopening of Taichung's Taiwan Provincial Baseball Stadium on Thursday night to remain above the .500 mark in winning percentage with a 25-2-23 record.

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