By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- The Lotte Giants defeated the Doosan Bears 2-1 on Tuesday to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the opening round of the playoffs in South Korea's top professional baseball league.
In the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) action at Jamsil Stadium here, backup catcher Yong Deok-han hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top ninth for the Giants' second straight come-from-behind victory in this best-of-five series.
On Monday, the Giants came back from a 5-3 deficit to win 8-5 in 10 innings. They now sit one win away from advancing to the second round.
Yong only got the starting nod after starting catcher Kang Min-ho injured his left eye in Monday's game. A throw from center took a big hop in front of Kang as he prepared to tag a runner and nailed him in the face.
Yong, 31, made the most of his opportunity as he drilled a high fastball from reliever Hong Sang-sam over the left field wall.
Hong also gave up a game-tying, two-run home run to Park Joon-seo in Monday's game.
Wednesday will be the travel day for the teams, as the series moves to Lotte's home in Busan, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. The third game is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Sajik Stadium and the fourth game, if necessary, is Friday at 6 p.m.
The Bears wasted little time getting on board, as Kim Hyun-soo hit a run-scoring single off starter Shane Youman in the bottom first.
Youman gave up three hits to the first five batters he faced in the game, but settled down to retire 11 of the next 12 Doosan hitters.
Noh Kyung-eun, starter for the Giants, was even more effective, holding the Giants to just three singles through six innings. In the top fourth, Noh shook off a hard comebacker that went off his right thigh for an infield single.
The Giants finally solved Noh in the top seventh with three straight one-out singles, capped off by Moon Kyu-hyun's RBI hit to left center.
They couldn't capitalize on the bases-loaded chance that followed, however, as reliever Hong Sang-sam got Cho Sung-hwan to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Just when it seemed the teams were heading for their second extra-inning game in a row, Yong, who played six seasons for Doosan before getting traded to Lotte in June, took Hong deep for his first career playoff home run.
Yong had just four home runs in 359 regular season games in his career.
The Bears blew their final chance in the bottom of the ninth. After Kim Hyun-soo led off the inning with a single, Yun Seok-min botched a sacrifice bunt attempt and the Giants infield turned it into a 5-6-3 double play.
Chong Tae-hyon, Lotte's fifth pitcher, got the final three outs to earn his second save in as many days.
Youman pitched six innings, giving up six hits and a run. Kang Young-sik earned the victory in relief.
Noh threw 6 1/3 innings for Doosan and allowed one earned run on six hits and three walks. Hong took the loss with Yong's homer.
Lotte's bottom three hitters came through, as Hwang Jae-gyun, Yong and Moon Kyu-hyun went a combined 6-for-12 with two RBI and two runs scored.
For the Bears, Kim Hyun-soo went 3-for-4 in the losing cause.
On Thursday, the Giants will send right-hander Ryan Sadowski to the mound to start the third game. The Bears' starter will be Lee Yong-chan.
Sadowski went 1-0 against the Bears in the regular season with a 2.18 ERA. He struck out 11 in 20 2/3 innings against them. Lee was 1-1 against Lotte during the season with a 1.07 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings.
In the KBO, the regular season champion earns a bye to the championship Korean Series. The No. 3 and the No. 4 teams play in the first round, with the winner going on to meet the No. 2 regular season club in the second round, which is also best-of-five.
The Samsung Lions, defending champions, finished first for the second straight regular season and have reached the Korean Series. The SK Wyverns, seeded second, are awaiting the winner of the Bears-Giants series in the next round.
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