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(LEAD) Savvy left-hander gives team another strong postseason start

All Headlines 18:22 October 30, 2016

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By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 30 (Yonhap) -- Doosan Bears' left-hander Chang Won-jun gave his club yet another strong postseason start on Sunday, tossing 8 2/3 strong innings in the team's 5-1 win over the NC Dinos in Game 2 of the Korean Series.

The victory gave the Bears a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven KBO championship series. The Bears are going for their second straight title.

Chang gave a single to the game's first hitter, Lee Jong-wook, but quickly erased the runner by getting Park Min-woo to ground into a 6-3 double play.

And that pattern held up for the majority of the game.

In the top third, Chang allowed a one-out single but got a pop out and a ground out to get out of the inning. Following a two-out single in the fifth, Chang got himself off the hook with a strikeout.

Doosan Bears' pitcher Chang Won-jun (R) high-fives his catcher Yang Eui-ji after completing the seventh inning of Game 2 of the Korean Series baseball game against the NC Dinos at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 30, 2016. (Yonhap)

Lee Jong-wook got his second hit off Chang with one out in the sixth, but Park Min-woo again hit into a double play, this time a 4-6-3 variety.

Chang induced his third double play of the game in the seventh. With one out, Eric Thames lined a single to right, but Park Sok-min killed the rally with a 6-4-3 twin killing.

All in all, Chang faced only two over the minimum through the first seven innings, working around five singles with four strikeouts and three double plays.

The pitcher then helped himself in the eighth. The Dinos got their sixth single off Chang to open the eighth. Pinch hitter Ji Seok-hun tried to sacrifice the runner over, but bunted right back to Chang, who threw to second to start the fourth double play of the game.

After getting those two outs, Chang finally cracked, allowing three straight singles to let the Dinos tie the game at 1-1. But his offense bailed him out in the bottom half of that inning by scoring four runs, including one on a solo shot by cleanup Kim Jae-hwan.

With a comfortable 5-1 cushion, Chang returned to the mound to start the ninth.

He gave up an infield single, and survived a scare when Eric Thames sent one deep to left field.

This time, Kim Jae-hwan helped his pitcher with his glove, making a fine grab while climbing up the fence to rob Thames of an extra-base hit.

Chang got another fly out, but one out from his first postseason complete game, Chang was lifted in favor of closer Lee Hyun-seung after getting a blister on his left middle finger.

Chang said he was disappointed to not finish the game himself.

"I am still happy that the team won the game," Chang said. "I made a bad pitch (in the eighth) to let them tie the game, but our hitters came right back to score a bunch of runs. I am really grateful for that."

Chang's gem immediately followed an outstanding start by Dustin Nippert in Game 1 on Saturday. The American right-hander twirled eight scoreless innings, setting the postseason record for consecutive scoreless innings with 34 1/3.

Chang also enjoyed a strong postseason in 2015 as the Bears claimed their fourth championship. He was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against the Dinos in the second round. And in his lone Korean Series start, Chang held the Samsung Lions to a run on six hits in 7 2/3 innings in a 5-1 victory in Game 3.

The 31-year-old has been one of the KBO's most durable starters, tossing at least 100 innings in each of his past 10 seasons while winning 109 games in that span.

He matched his career high with 15 wins in 2016 while posting a 3.32 ERA, the second-lowest mark of his career. And he has picked up right where he left off in the Korean Series.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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