Bears continue to pound Elephants

PRO BASEBALL: The Bears quickly shrugged off a loss at the start of their series with the Elephants to win the next three games with solid pitching and hitting power

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER , NEW YORK

Tue, May 16, 2006 - Page 19

The La New Bears continued their mastery over the Brother Elephants on Sunday with a 9-3 victory in Tainan to take the four-game series 3-1.

After Wednesday's 2-0 loss in the series opener at Pingtung, the league-leaders won three in a row by a combined scoring margin of 26-7 to reclaim a four-game lead over the Elephants in Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League standings.

The Bears attack led 2-0 in the top of the third inning on Sunday with consecutive scoring singles by first baseman Pan Chung-wei and shortstop Lin Chih-sheng off Elephants starter Yofu Tetsu after the first two Bears hitters reached base via a pair of walks.

The visiting Bears added to their lead by three in the fifth inning to make 5-0 when designated hitter Chen Chin-fong smashed a two-run homer off Yofu before outfielder Lu Jung-hsiung followed with another RBI double.

Tsai Fong-an's two-run blast off Bears starter Tsai Ying-fong in the bottom of the fifth inning cut the Bears' cushion down to three, only to see the Bears answer with a four-run sixth inning on Chen and Lu's run-scoring singles and catcher Chen Fong-min's two-run double.

An inefficient offense for the Elephants was to blame for the loss as the 11 hits that it collected off the Bears staff only produced three runs, compared to the Bears' 16 that drove in nine runs. Their collective 1-for-12 batting with runners in scoring position stranded a total of 15 runners, making the job for Yofu (4-2) unimaginably difficult as the Japanese righty.

Benefiting from the high-powered offense was Bears starter Tsai (3-3).

Lions 6, Bulls 6, 11 innings

Shaky relief by the bullpen late in the game cost the President Lions the win in Tianmu on Sunday night as they settled for a 6-6 tie against the Sinon Bulls after 11 innings.

Top closer Tseng Yi-cheng entered the game in the ninth inning with a 6-5 lead and immediately surrendered a leadoff single to Bulls pinch-hitter Chen Tsung-fu on a bad-hop grounder to short, before yielding a blooper single to Chang "Red Monkey" Jia-hao after an unsuccessful sacrifice bunt by the Bulls to put runners at the corners with one out.

Tseng Hua-wei promptly hit a sacrifice fly to deep-center to score the tying run as the Bulls forced the game into extra innings in a contest that lasted nearly four hours.

Bulls starter Clint Weibl of the US complained about the low pitching mound at the Tianmu Baseball Stadium, but still managed seven innings of three-run ball (two earned) on seven hits and seven strikeouts in another quality start, despite allowing a pair of solo homers to the big cats' Kuo Dai-chi and fellow countryman Bryant Nelson.

The Lions took a 2-0 lead after three innings of play on Kuo's solo shot off Weibl in the second and a defensive error by the Bulls that scored a run in the third.

After the Bulls halved the Lions lead to 2-1 on catcher Yeh Jung-chang's high bouncer up the middle in the fourth inning they put up four more runs in the sixth inning on the strength of three singles off Lions reliever Cheng Bo-ren and two costly errors by the Lions defense (five errors for the game) to take a 5-2 lead.

The Bulls' lead lasted only two innings as the Lions went back on top 6-5 with a three-run eighth inning on an RBI groundout by Yang Song-hsuen and a pair of run-scoring singles from infielders Yang Seng and Luis Ugueto of Venezuela.

American League

AP, New York

Dan Haren pitched a six-hitter for his first complete game this season and the Oakland Athletics homered twice off an inconsistent Randy Johnson to beat the New York Yankees 6-1 on Sunday.

Mark Kotsay and Jay Payton connected for the A's, who avoided a three-game sweep and snapped their four-game losing skid. They did it with a depleted lineup which was missing Eric Chavez, Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley.

Oakland's designated hitter, Antonio Perez, batted ninth and snapped an 0-for-30 skid dating to last season with a two-out RBI single off Ron Villone in the eighth.

Haren (3-3) gave up only a second-inning homer to Jorge Posada, winning his second consecutive start and sending the Yankees to their first loss in 13 day games this year. The right-hander struck out six and walked none in his fourth career complete game. The other three came last season.

New York lost for only the fourth time in 14 games.

Johnson (5-4) has struggled so much recently that the Yankees sent him for an MRI after his previous outing to make sure he wasn't injured. He was a little better this time out, but not good enough.

Blue Jays 8, Devil Rays 3

At St. Petersburg, Florida, Josh Towers won his first game of the season, snapping a seven-game losing streak for Toronto.

Towers (1-7) gave up three runs and five hits in eight plus innings for his first win since a 10-1 complete game victory on Sept. 30 against Kansas City. The right-hander's spot in the rotation was in jeopardy after losing his first seven starts this season. Entering Sunday, Towers had allowed 54 hits -- including nine homers -- and 12 walks in 30 1-3 innings.

Towers had allowed only three hits through the first eight innings before Joey Gathright led off the ninth with a single and Julio Lugo followed with his first homer of the season to make it 8-3.

B.J. Ryan then got the final three outs for Toronto, which has won six of eight.

Tampa Bay starter Casey Fossum (1-2) gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings. The Devil Rays, who have lost 17 of 25, have scored five runs or less in 14 straight games.

Tigers 3, Indians 2

At Cleveland, Mike Maroth pitched six strong innings to win again at Jacobs Field and Detroit completed its first three-game sweep in Cleveland in nearly 16 years.

The Tigers won their fourth straight to improve the best road record in Major League Baseball to 16-7. The Indians lost their sixth straight for the first time since a six-game skid in August 2004.

The Tigers last swept a series in Cleveland on June 5-7, 1990.

Maroth (5-2) allowed one unearned run and seven hits to improve to 8-3 in his career against the Indians, including 6-0 in Cleveland.

Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

Jason Johnson (2-3), in his first outing against the Tigers since leaving them as a free agent in December, allowed two earned runs and eight hits over six-plus innings.

Orioles 8, Royals 7

At Baltimore, pinch-hitter Kevin Millar capped a four-run ninth inning with a two-out RBI single, and Baltimore beat Kansas City for a three-game sweep.

The Orioles issued 12 walks to fall behind 7-4, then rallied in the ninth against Kansas City closer Ambiorix Burgos (1-1), who began the inning by walking the bases loaded.

Jeff Conine followed with a sacrifice fly. After Corey Patterson struck out, Javy Lopez and Nick Markakis hit run-scoring singles to tie it.

Jimmy Gobble replaced Burgos, and Millar blooped a 3-2 pitch to right to score Lopez and complete the 3 hour, 54-minute marathon.

John Halama (2-1) worked the ninth for the Orioles, who earned their first sweep of the season. It was their first home sweep of a three-game series against Kansas City since 1999.

Mariners 9, Angels 4

At Anaheim, California, Raul Ibanez, Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt each hit two-run homers, helping Seattle beat Los Angeles.

Carl Everett added a solo shot as seven of the Mariners' runs came on long balls barely 12 hours after their 5-4 victory on Richie Sexson's homer in the 13th inning on Saturday.

Gil Meche (3-2) allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out five and walked three.

The Angels lost for the seventh time in eight home games behind another disastrous outing by Jeff Weaver (1-6), who gave up seven runs on seven hits in 3 2-3 innings -- his second-shortest outing of the season.

The Mariners led 4-0 on a pair of two-run homers by Ibanez and Lopez, who connected on his first pitch from Weaver in the third.

White Sox 9, Twins 7

At Minneapolis, Mark Buehrle settled down after an awful first inning and Chicago turned a triple play.

Jim Thome broke out of a 0-for-12 slump with a home run in the third and Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski also went deep for Chicago, which had been outscored 18-5 in two losses to start the four-game series.

Minnesota trailed 9-7 when Nick Punto led off the sixth with a bunt single and Buehrle walked Shannon Stewart. Luis Castillo tried to bunt them over, but his attempt popped up in the air. Paul Konerko charged in from first and made a shoestring catch, then threw to Tadahito Iguchi at first to get Stewart.

Iguchi fired to Juan Uribe to get Punto at second base, giving the Sox their first triple play since July 7, 2004, against the Angels.

Carlos Silva (2-6) got the loss for the Twins.

Buehrle (4-2) allowed seven runs in the first inning then shut out the Twins over the next five innings. Bobby Jenks pitched 1 1-3 innings for his 11th save.

National League

AP, Cincinnati, Ohio

Ryan Howard tied the game with a pinch-hit homer, then connected again in the 12th inning to power the Philadelphia Phillies over the Cincinnati Reds 2-1.

The Phillies won for the 13th time in 14 games, completing their first three-game sweep in Cincinnati since September 2002.

Howard's 12th homer off left-hander Chris Hammond (0-1) finished the longest game of the season for both teams. It was his third two-homer game of the season -- he also had a solo shot in the eighth off starter Brandon Claussen.

Geoff Geary (1-0) pitched out of a two-on, two-out threat in the 11th to get the victory, a day after he was recalled from Triple-A. Tom Gordon got the last three outs for his 13th save in 14 tries.

The Reds have lost three in a row for the first time this season, a slump that knocked them out of first place in the National League Central division.

Cincinnati's Jason LaRue hit a solo homer with a pink bat inscribed with his mother's name, providing the only run off a Phillies starter in the series. Claussen made the 1-0 lead stand until the eighth.

Padres 9, Cubs 0

At Chicago, Clay Hensley pitched his first career shutout, allowing two hits, and Khalil Greene hit a three-run home run to lead San Diego.

The Padres completed a three-game sweep of Chicago and finished the season 7-0 against the Cubs. Their last sweep at Wrigley came in September 1992.

Brian Giles walked five times, tying a major league record in a nine-inning game for San Diego, which has won 14 of its last 15 games. The Padres also have won eight straight on the road.

Chicago has lost 14 of its last 16 games.

Hensley (2-2) retired 11 straight batters until giving up a double to Michael Barrett in the fifth inning. He threw 92 pitches, with two strikeouts and one intentional walk.

Rich Hill (0-3) lasted 5 1-3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, striking out four and walking five.

Nationals 8, Braves 1

At Atlanta, Tony Armas pitched three-hit ball over seven innings, Alfonso Soriano homered and Washington took advantage of a careless defensive play by Adam LaRoche.

Armas (4-2) dominated a team that scored 14 runs while winning the first two games of the series. He gave up three singles, struck out six and escaped his only serious jam by striking out Chipper Jones with the bases loaded in the third.

Soriano led off the third inning with his 12th homer and singled in two more runs in the sixth.

The Nationals blew it open against John Thomson (1-3) with four unearned runs in the fifth -- all of them scoring after LaRoche fielded a routine grounder but nonchalantly jogged to first base on what should have been the third out.

Nick Johnson hustled down the line, and first-base umpire Mark Carlson ruled the runner safe. Television replays were inconclusive, showing LaRoche stepping on the bag at about the same time as Johnson.

LaRoche turned around in disbelief when Carlson made the safe call, and manager Bobby Cox came out to argue. Cox was ejected after the inning, clearly disgusted that the Nationals followed LaRoche's error with three straight hits.

Marlins 8, Pirates 2

At Pittsburgh, Brian Moehler won for the first time in 23 games since last July, taking a shutout into the eighth inning as Florida opened an early eight-run lead.

Miguel Cabrera, the only proven veteran hitter in a Marlins lineup which features mostly rookies, hit a three-run homer during a five-run second inning against Ian Snell (2-3) which helped make it 8-0. Snell hadn't allowed an earned run in his previous two starts at home, only to give up seven runs and seven hits in 1 1-3 innings.

Moehler (1-4) came into the game with some of the worst numbers of any starting pitcher in the majors -- an 0-4 record, 9.76 ERA and .368 opponents batting average. But he was in control from the start against the Pirates, who now own the NL's worst record at 11-27.

Astros 3, Rockies 0

At Houston, Andy Pettitte pitched a three-hit shutout and Morgan Ensberg and Lance Berkman homered to lead Houston.

The shutout is Pettitte's first with Houston and his first since June 2002 with the New York Yankees against the New York Mets. It was the left-hander's first complete game since August 2003 against Seattle.

Pettitte (3-4) struck out seven and walked one. He zipped through the first two innings, retiring the first six batters he faced, including striking out the last two. Brad Hawpe got a single to open the third before Pettitte struck out the next two batters.

In his first career appearance against Houston, Jeff Francis (2-3) allowed six hits and three runs while striking out five in seven innings.

Sunday marked 40-year-old Craig Biggio's 2,600th career game, making him the first Astros player to reach the milestone. He is second behind Barry Bonds in games played by National League players since 1970. Biggio was 1-for-4.

Diamondbacks 7, Cardinals 6

At St. Louis, Chad Tracy hit a tiebreaking two-run double in a four-run seventh inning, helping Arizona avoid a three-game sweep.

Johnny Estrada had two hits and three RBIs while Luis Gonzalez went 4-for-5 and scored two runs for the Diamondbacks, who are 4-14 against St. Louis over the last four seasons.

Estrada and Shawn Green had RBI singles in the seventh, giving the Diamondbacks the cushion they needed after the Cardinals scored three in the bottom of the seventh.

Starters Chris Carpenter and Miguel Batista each allowed three runs, none of them earned, as the teams combined for five errors. The Cardinals tied a season high with their second three-error game in five days.

Albert Pujols had a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning for his major league-leading 48th RBI.

Adam Wainwright (1-1) got the loss. Luis Vizcaino (2-2) got the win, and Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances.

Brewers 6, Mets 5, 10 innings

At Milwaukee, Bill Hall hit a two-out home run in the 10th inning to give Milwaukee the victory.

The Brewers blew leads in the seventh and ninth innings, including the first blown save of the season by closer Derrick Turnbow.

Turnbow -- who had converted his first 12 save opportunities this season -- allowed Carlos Delgado to double and score on a two-out infield hit by Xavier Nady in the ninth inning, tying the score 5-5.

Jorge De La Rosa struck out two in one inning to earn the victory (2-0). Chad Bradford (2-2) took the loss by giving up Hall's homer.

A sacrifice fly by Geoff Jenkins had given the Brewers a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning.

Pedro Martinez struck out 10 in seven innings -- his 107th career game and third this year with 10 or more strikeouts -- but gave up two home runs. Mets hitters, meanwhile, couldn't take full advantage of another wild outing by Brewers starter Doug Davis, who walked five batters in five-plus innings. Davis has issued a National League-worst 37 walks this season.

Dodgers 6, Giants 3

At San Francisco, Barry Bonds' home run drought reached six games and he remained stalled at 713 and one from tying Babe Ruth as San Francisco concluded a seven-game homestand with a loss to Los Angeles. Bonds went 0-for-2 with two walks.

The Dodgers broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth on a two-base throwing error by reliever Steve Kline (1-1) in which the ball went off Omar Vizquel's glove and into shallow left as the shortstop covered third, allowing two runs to score.

Nomar Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to nine games with an RBI single in the eighth, the eighth straight game he's driven in a run. Rafael Furcal singled in a run in the ninth.

Mike Matheny blooped a tying RBI single off Odalis Perez (4-1) -- pitching in relief for the first time since September 2001 with Atlanta -- in the seventh. Joe Beimel pitched two innings for his first career save.