Bears blank Heroes behind stout pitching, opportunistic bats

SEOUL-- This was a productive day at work for the starting battery of the Doosan Bears.

Starting pitcher Lee Young-ha tossed seven shutout innings and struck out a season-high seven batters, and his catcher Park Sei-hyok delivered three RBIs, as the Bears defeated the Kiwoom Heroes 9-0 on Tuesday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

Kang Seung-ho, the hottest Doosan hitter this month, went 4-for-5 with two RBI in his second straight start as No. 3 hitter.

The Bears staked Lee to a 1-0 lead before he even took the mound, with Kiwoom starter Tyler Eppler struggling with his command early on.

The Bears loaded the bases with two singles and a walk, and Park worked a six-pitch walk to push in the game's first run.

And that was all Lee needed on this night.

He struck out the leadoff man Lee Yong-kyu to set the early tone. Lee cruised through four innings, holding the Heroes to just one hit while striking out four batters. Lee had his forkball working, as all three swinging strikeouts came via that pitch.

The Heroes' one early opportunity came in the third, when Lee Ji-young singled and reached second on a sacrifice bunt. Lee Young-ha, though, retired the next two batters on grounders back to the mound and kept the Heroes off the board.

Eppler settled down after the chaotic first inning, though. He had a couple of strikeouts in the second inning, and got three quick groundouts on five pitches in the third inning.

Eppler walked Park with one out in the fourth but he was erased on a 6-4-3 double play ball. After allowing two singles in the first inning, Eppler held the Bears hitless over the next four frames.

But Eppler got no help from his teammates at the plate, as they could barely touch Lee, who pitched around a one-out walk in the fourth and had three-up, three-down innings in the fifth and sixth.

Park gave his starting pitcher more breathing room in the top sixth. A pair of singles put runners at the corners with two outs and Park, who had drawn two walks in two previous trips to the plate, cleared the bases with a ringing double to right field.

Park's line drive traveled just past the outstretched glove of Yasiel Puig.

The Bears went up 4-0 in the seventh, courtesy of Kang Seung-ho's two-out RBI single.

The Heroes couldn't cash in after loading the bases in the seventh, and the missed opportunity haunted them.

The Bears tacked on five more runs in the top eighth, all of them scored with two outs.

First, it was An Jae-seok making it 5-0 with a single. Reliever Ha Young-min then walked two straight batters to load the bases for pinch hitter Kang Jin-sung. Kang hit a ground ball to shortstop Sin Jun-woo for what could have been an inning-ending force out at second base. But Sin bounced his throw to second and that allowed two runners to come home for a 7-0 Bears lead.

Kang Seung-ho cashed in another run with a single, his fourth of the game. A bases-loaded walk by Heo Kyoung-min made it a 9-0 Bears lead.

Doosan's bullpen slammed the door shut to make the score stand.

Doosan manager Kim Tae-hyoung gave kudos to his pitcher-catcher combo.

"Lee Young-ha did what he was supposed to do as a starter, and Park Sei-hyok was excellent with his game calling and his bat," Kim said. "Our players delivered at some critical moments of the game."

Park, who batted only .133 in April, is hitting .346 in May. He already has 12 RBIs in eight games this month, after picking up just two RBIs in 23 games last month.

He said after the game that he was more pleased with Lee Young-ha's pitching than his own performance.

"We've been trying to figure out how to get the most out of him, and it's great to see those efforts bear fruit in recent outings," Park said. "We still have a lot of baseball left. If we stay positive, hopefully we will have the last laugh."

Source: Yonhap News Agency