Stellar pitching coupled with timely hitting propelled the Chinatrust Whales to a 2-0 shutout win over the Brother Elephants in Sinjhuang on Sunday night as they swept an opponent in a series for the first time this season.
Veteran starter Kao Jien-san took a five-hit shutout one out into the ninth inning, before back-to-back singles by Brother's Chen "Golden Warrior" Chih-yuan and Wang Jin-yong prompted the entrance of closer Shen Yu-jeh.
The second-year closer -- known for his great changeup and knuckle balls -- managed to prevent the Elephants from opening the floodgates by retiring the next two batters, stranding the runners and keeping the shutout intact for the Whales' fourth-straight win.
The well-deserved victory was only Kao's third of the year, as he has often fallen victim to a lack of run support despite holding a respectable earned run average of 3.86 (in eleven starts) -- second only to team ace Tseng Jau-hao's 3.19.
Outfielder Kao Jung-chiang drew a bases-loaded walk in the opening inning off a wild Yeh Yong-jeh, who was making just his second start of the year, to give the Whales a quick 1-0 lead.
The Whales would double their lead in the fifth on a throwing error by Elephants third baseman Yang Bo-ren that allowed a runner to score all the way from first for an unearned run.
That was all the scoring that either offense was able to generate against the stingy pitching of Kao Jien-san and Yeh.
The shu-out loss by the Elephants was their second in as many days, extending their losing streak to a record-tying 26 straight games and counting.
Lions 4, Bears 5
Sound late-innings relief by La New Bears closer Ramon Morel held off a tough rally by the visiting President Lions as the home team prevailed in a 5-4 decision at Kaohsiung on Sunday night to take the weekly four-game series by a 2-1-1 (tie) margin.
The Dominican righty -- who played for the Sinon Bulls in 2002 and 2003 as the premier closer in the league -- joined the Bears bullpen in mid-June and has done a solid job in protecting late-innings leads for his new club.
In his 10 late-game appearances since early last month, Morel has racked up six saves while winning and losing a game each, with the loss resulting in his only blown save of the year thus far.? His hitless effort in one-and-a-third innings of play on Sunday preserved the win for fellow countryman Martin Vargas, who won his local debut despite allowing four runs on seven hits in five-and-two-third innings.
Trailing 5-1, the Lions sent eight batters to the plate in a three-run sixth inning to close within a run of the league leaders, highlighted by Chen Lien-hong's pinch-hit single off Bears reliever Huang Jung-chung with the bases loaded that scored two runs to make it 5-4.
Offensively for the Bears, three different hitters had multi-hit games on the night, led by outfielder Huang Long-yi's 2-for-4 outing with a pair of RBIs.
Rookie second baseman Jiang Chih-tsong also drove in two runs for the Bears with a liner up the middle off Lions reliever Lin Yueh-ping in the bottom of the fourth that turned out to be the game winner.
Taking the loss for the big cats was starter Chang Chih-chiang, who lasted only three-plus frames on four runs and four hits and is still in search of his first win of the season with a 0-3 record.