A late inning collapse by the Brother Elephants netted the La New Bears a dramatic 5-4 come-from-behind win in Kaohsiung on Friday night, stretching the Bears' run without a loss to nine.
Trailing the Elephants by a deuce in the bottom of the ninth, the league leaders capitalized on two deadly errors by the Brother defense that gave them three runs, all unearned, to run away with a win that sent the Elephants to a new mark of eleven straight defeats.
Catcher Kuo Yi-fong's attempted pickoff play at first sailed wide, advancing both runners into scoring positions, before outfielder Huang Cheng-wei's drop on a routine fly on the ensuing play scored the Bears' first of three runs in the inning.
PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES
Liu Jung-hsiung and Lin Chih-sheng then followed with back-to-back RBI singles off closer Todd Erdos to clinch the miraculous win for the hosts in one of the most dramatic finishes in recent history.
"I don't know what happened out there, but the baseball gods definitely were on our side tonight," game-winning pitcher Huang Jung-chung said after the game.
The loss had the Elephants scratching their heads, wondering what more they needed to do to finally come up with a win after losing eight of their past eleven by two runs or less.
PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES
Chen "the Golden Warrior" Chih-yuan smashed a three-run homer off Bears starter Ramon Morel in the top of the fourth to give the Elephants a rare 3-0 lead that they would add to by one in the seventh after the Bears answered with a run each in the fourth and fifth to pull within one of the Elephants.
Bears 4, Elephants 1
Lin Chih-sheng's sharp double down the third base line off American starter Chuck Smith in the bottom of the seventh scored the tie-breaking run for the Bears before they added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth to beat the Elephants by 4-1 in Thursday night's contest.
The Bears finally got to Smith in the fifth for their first run of the game after failing to connect with runners on during the first three frames for a 1-0 lead, only to see the feisty Elephants respond with a run of their own in the top of the seventh when Chen Rei-chang's pinch-hit single with two outs brought home the equalizer.
Lefty ace Wu Si-yo outpitched Brother's Smith with seven brilliant innings of two-hit ball for his 14th win of the season before the Bears bullpen came in to wrap up the win with a perfect eighth and ninth to seal the win.
The loss by Smith was his fifth in ten total starts despite holding a respectable earned run average of 2.91 that would place the late-arriving American righty among the top ten hurlers in the league had he reached the minimum innings-pitched requirement.
Whales 9, Cobras 8
The Chinatrust Whales held off a ferocious Macoto Cobras rally in the bottom of the ninth to win for the first time in nearly two weeks with a 9-8 triumph at Hsinchu on Friday night.
Chen Yuan-jia led off the Macoto ninth with a walk and advanced to third on a single by teammate Chen Keh-fang before Kao Wei sent him home with a sacrifice fly off Whales closer Shen Yu-jeh to make it 9-8 in favor of the Whales.
But that was as close as the Cobras would get as Shen quickly regrouped to induce a groundout to third for the final out of the game for his fifth victory of the season.
After watching their 2-0 first-inning lead disappear in the bottom of the very same inning on scoring drives by the Cobras' Chou Si-chi and Deng Shih-yang, the Whales would slide further by allowing four more runs to the serpents in the third to trail by a score of 7-2 after three innings.
That was all the scoring that the Cobras could manage against the stellar relief pitching of Chu Wei-ming, who allowed a lone run on four hits over five innings before they scored a run off Shen in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Whales offense was able to collect seven runs off the Macoto staff with three in the fourth and two runs each in the eighth and ninth, capped by slugger Mike Lockwood's two-run blast off reliever Lee Ming-jin in the top of the ninth that turned out to be the game-winner.
The blown save by Lee was only his second of the year as the setup man extraordinaire suffered his fourth loss to drop to a 5-4 mark.
Rookie Jeremy Sowers won his third straight start with six solid innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 4-2 win over the suddenly staggering Detroit Tigers on Friday.
Sowers (6-3) gave up two runs in the second inning, but blanked baseball's best team for the next four as the Indians snapped a four-game losing streak to Detroit. Cleveland is just 5-12 against the Tigers this season.
Blue Jays 6, Royals 3
In Toronto, Rookie Shaun Marcum rebounded from the worst start of his young career with six strong innings.
Marcum (2-3), who allowed nine runs in a 15-0 loss to Baltimore in his last start on Aug. 19, won for the first time in six games. He allowed just one run and seven hits, while striking out four and walking two.
Orioles 4, Tampa Bay 0
In Baltimore, Daniel Cabrera pitched seven innings of five-hit ball, and Baltimore dealt Tampa Bay its eighth straight road loss.
Ramon Hernandez drove in a run and scored twice for the Orioles, who have won six of nine.
Twins 5, White Sox 4
At Chicago, Jason Bartlett had a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth as the Minnesota Twins took over the AL wild-card lead.
Athletics 9, Rangers 3
At Arlington, Texas, Barry Zito took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning and earned his 100th career victory.
Mariners 6, Red Sox 0
At Seattle, Jake Woods and two relievers combined on a five-hit shutout to help Seattle beat short-handed Boston.
Angels 6, Yankees 5
At Anaheim, California, rookie Mike Napoli hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, lifting Los Angeles over New York.
Ryan Howard hit his National League-leading 45th home run and made a key diving stop as the Philadelphia Phillies ended the New York Mets' seven-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory Friday.
Randy Wolf and the Philadelphia bullpen also stopped the Mets' 11-game winning string at Shea Stadium, their best streak at home since September 1995.
Astros 5, Pirates 1
In Pittsburgh, Roger Clemens limited the Pirates to one run over six innings to win his fourth in a row, extending his strong run of late-season pitching for the fast-fading Astros, who have lost 10 of 14.
Clemens' 347th career victory was his first there in two starts in a career that has been spent mostly in the American League.
In other NL games it was:
* Marlins 6, Brewers 5
* Nationals 7, Braves 6
* Cardinals 2, Cubs 0
* Rockies 13, Padres 5
* Giants 4, Reds 1
* Arizona 9, Dodgers 7, 15 innings
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