(MHN Sports Reporter Lee Kyu-won) In the end, a ‘streak stopper’ ace saved a team in crisis.
The Lotte Giants escaped a four-game losing streak with a strong performance from homegrown ace Na Kyun-ahn.
The Giants rode a solo home run by Jeon Jun-woo and the cohesiveness of their bats to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Samsung Lions of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on Monday.
Lotte failed to reach 30 wins in 50 games for the first time in 24 years since 1999, but reached 30 wins (22-loss, .577) in 52 games for the first time in 15 years since 2008.
Third-place Lotte, which snapped a four-game losing streak, cut the deficit to 1.5 games over second-place LG Twins, who also lost today.
In a starting matchup between pitchers selected for the Asian Games, Na Gyun-an came out on top.
He allowed seven hits and three walks through the seventh inning, but struck out five to limit the damage to one run.
Na has been Lotte’s ace this season, especially in the midst of a losing streak.
On April 9, when Lotte was in the midst of a three-game losing streak, Na threw seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts against Busan KT. Lotte won the game 5-3. Thanks to Na’s performance, the team snapped the losing streak.
On March 23, he played the role of 먹튀검증 ace “streak stopper” in his start against Busan NC, throwing six scoreless innings and striking out five to end the team’s two-game losing streak.
On that day, Lotte took the lead in the top of the fifth inning when Jack Rex singled up the middle after an error loaded the bases.
After a wild pitch allowed a run to score, Ko Seung-min hit a two-run double to left field to make it 4-0.
In the top of the sixth, Jeon Jun-woo hit a solo home run over the right field fence.
Samsung, which had been unable to capitalize on its scoring opportunities, got one run back in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Kim Tae-gun with the bases loaded, but couldn’t get any closer.
Samsung starter Won Tae-in took the loss after giving up four runs (one earned) on eight hits through five innings.
■ Park Chan-ho makes a bullet-like jumping catch on a hit-by-pitch.
The KIA Tigers, who had lost three straight games, defeated the visiting Doosan Bears, who had won three straight, 7-3 in Jamsil.
KIA took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when leadoff hitter Ryu Ji-hyuk led off with a triple to center field, and Ko Jong-wook followed with a double down the right field line.
In the top of the fourth, Socrates Brito doubled to right-center and scored on Lee Woo-sung’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
After Doosan loaded the bases with three outs in the bottom of the fourth, pinch-hitter Kim Jae-hwan hit a two-run double to left field to tie the game at 2-2.
KIA scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning on a double by Ko Jong-wook and an RBI single by Choi Hyung-woo to take a 4-2 lead, but Doosan cut the deficit to one when Yang Yang-ji hit a solo shot to left field after an offensive shift.
However, KIA scored a run in the bottom of the sixth when Park Chan-ho singled up the middle and another in the seventh when veteran Choi Hyung-woo singled to left to make it 6-3.
Park Chan-ho was active on defense in the bottom of the fifth inning, making a jumping catch of a bullet-like hit by Doosan pinch-hitter Song Seung-hwan.
In the top of the ninth, Lee Woo-sung drove in a run with a double.
Socrates led the offense, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
■ Jang Jang-woo misses out on extra innings…KT holds on to win sixth in a row
In Suwon, KT WIZ defeated the Kiwoom Heroes 3-2 in extra innings.
With Pajuk’s sixth straight win, eighth-ranked KT overtook seventh-ranked Samseong without a win and will look to leapfrog into the mid- to upper-tier.
It was Kiwoom who opened the scoring.
Kiwoom struck first in the top of the second inning when KT starter Wes Benjamin walked four batters.
KT made it 1-1 in the bottom of the third when Kim Min-hyuk singled to center field and Park Byung-ho hit a solo home run to right field to make it 2-1 in the fourth.
However, Kiwoom tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth when Lee Hyung-jong drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch and Kim Hwi-jip singled to center field.
The game was decided in the bottom of the 10th inning.
KT put runners on first and third after Jung Jun-young singled and Hwang Jae-gyun singled to left, and Jang Sung-woo hit a huge sacrifice fly to left field to score the game-winning run.
Hanwha snaps three-game losing streak, beats LG on Go Woo-seok’s ninth-inning blast
In Daejeon, the last-place Hanwha Eagles snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-5 victory over the LG Twins.
LG took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning on an infield single by Kim Hyun-soo and an RBI double by Austin Dean.
Hanwha got one run back in the bottom of the sixth when Chae Eun-sung singled up the middle with runners on first and second.
With the bases loaded, Choi Jae-hoon drew a walk and Moon Hyun-bin hit an infield single to tie the game at 3-3.
LG scored a run in the top of the seventh on Kim Hyun-soo’s RBI double to regain the lead at 4-3, but Hanwha answered in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second off LG reliever Park Myung-geun to take a 5-4 lead.
LG loaded the bases with three outs in the bottom of the ninth and scored a run on Kim Hyun-soo’s infield grounder to tie the game at 5-5.
However, the trusted closer Ko Woo-seok collapsed.
Hanwha scored the dramatic game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth when Noh Si-hwan and Kim In-hwan singled to put runners on first and third, and the third baseman came home when Go Woo-seok threw a wild pitch.
■ Foreign ace Pedi reaches minimum of 10 wins…NC wins 3 in a row over SSG
In Changwon, the NC Dinos extended their winning streak to three games with a 5-2 victory over the SSG Landers.
NC starter Eric Pedi pitched six innings, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts to become the first player to reach the 10-win plateau.
Notably, Peddy reached the 10-win mark in just 12 games this season, tying the KBO record for wins in fewest games.
NC had the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning after back-to-back singles by Jason Martin and Park Seok-min.
With the bases loaded, Yoon Hyung-joon and Kim Joo-won followed with back-to-back singles, and Son As-seob hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
SSG responded with a single run in the top of the sixth.
After leadoff hitter Choi Jung-jeong drew a walk, Guillermo Heredia hit a two-run arch over the left-center field fence to cut the deficit to 2-3.
But NC answered in the bottom of the sixth when Park Se-hyuk lined a single to right-center with runners on first and second.