Chen Guan-ren scored the go-ahead run for the Lamigo Monkeys with a tiebreaking triple as they held on to defeat the Uni-President Lions 6-4 at Kaohsiung’s Cheng Ching Lake Baseball Stadium in Game 2 last night to grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Taiwan Series.
The longtime Brother Elephants slugger, who was traded to the Primates prior to the start of this season, silenced his critics with not only a career-high batting average of .369 in the regular season, but he also came up big in a clutch situation last night to give his new club a very favorable series lead.
“I guess we never stop believing in ourselves,” Chen said after the game.
He also hit and scored a run in the series opener on Saturday, but he had no bigger hit than the liner to right-center that knocked in the runner from second for the game-winner.
“To come right back after we just gave up the lead in the eighth was really a huge boost for us,” Lamigo skipper Hung Yi-chung said after the game.
Monkeys closer Paul Phillips had served up a two-run homer to the Lions’ Kao Guo-ching in the bottom of the eighth to surrender a 4-2 lead after having led the game since the top of the first.
Similar to Saturday’s night’s opener, the Monkeys drew first blood in the top of the first with three quick runs off Lions starter Eulogio de la Cruz of the Dominican Republic on the strength of three singles and a triple to enjoy a 3-0 advantage.
Even though the Dominican standout pitched shutout ball from the second through the sixth to give his offense a chance to get back into the game, his counterpart Tseng Jau-hao was equally impressive in shutting down the potent Lions attack, as the veteran righty out of the National Chiayi University kept the Lions to a lone run on six hits over five innings of work, before turning to his bullpen for help.
The Monkeys relievers would eventually give up the lead on a wild pitch by Hung Chin-chih with the bases loaded in the sixth to hand the Lions their second run of the game, before Kao’s two-run homer off Phillips that cost Tseng the win in the eighth.
Fortunately for the Primates, Chen was able to save the day for his team and Phillips managed to pick up the win, despite being charged with a blown save for serving up Kao’s game-tying homer in the eighth.
Suffering the loss was Lions reliever Lee Wei-hua, who allowed the leadoff man to reach on a hit batsman to start off the ninth.
The teams get a much needed break today as they travel north to Taoyuan for Game 3 tomorrow evening, with the opening pitch scheduled for 6:35pm.