Back-to-back victories over the Brother Elephants earlier this week breathed new signs of life into the once-troubled Chinatrust Whales, as they ascended to third place in the standings for the first time since late June.
Cheng Chang-ming's clutch single with runners on first and second broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the seventh before Chen Jien-wei's solo homer off Elephants reliever Wang Jing-li in the eighth scored an insurance run in a 4-2 Whales victory at Taichung on Wednesday night.
The contest had the Whales jumping out on top with red-hot slugger Huang Kwei-yu, this year's Homer Run Derby winner, lining a clean RBI double to deep-left off Elephants starter Chuck Smith in the top of the first for a quick 1-0 lead.
The marine creatures would double their lead two innings later with Huang leading the way again by delivering a run-scoring single in the third that brought home fellow teammate Chen Jien-wei.
Trailing by a deuce, the Elephants finally answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third on three singles and a costly throwing error by Whales second baseman Wang Yi-min to tie the game at 2-2.
That would be all the offense that the men in the golden uniform could muster against the Whales' pitching as starter Alexander Herrera and reliever Su Tseh-yi combined for six shutout innings the rest of the way to claim the win.
Su improved to 3-1 for the season with the win by pitching 3-2/3 innings of two-hit ball in relief of starter Herrera. Smith dropped to 2-4 for the year in the loss, despite turning in seven solid innings of work on three runs (two earned) and six hits. He walked one and fanned a season-high of eight.
Whales 7, Elephants 6
Four late-inning runs by the Whales provided just enough offense to beat the Elephants in Tuesday night's series-opener at Chiayi in a close 7-6 win.
Brian Becker's timely single off Wang Jing-li with the bases loaded scored a pair of runs for the Whales as they broke a 3-3 deadlock in the seventh to go up 5-3.
The Whales then added two more runs in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Cheng Chang-ming and a run-scoring double by Chi Juang-lin to make it 7-3.
Chi's one-run double proved to be critical as the Elephants rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth with a three-run blast by pinch-hitter Chen Rei-chang off Whales reliever Liu Yu-chang to get within one of the Whales. That was as close as the Elephants got, as Liu managed to get two groundouts after giving up the three-run shot to preserve the 7-6 win.
The Elephants actually drew first blood in the bottom of the first on Chen Rei-cheng's single up the middle off Whales starter Du Chang-wei, only to see Chinatrust respond with three second-inning runs, highlighted by Becker's solo blast over the left field wall, to claim a 3-1 lead.
The Elephants would even things up in the sixth with another RBI single by Chen Rei-cheng and a sacrifice fly by Chen Guan-ren to set the stage for the late-game drama.