The Lotte Giants stayed alive in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason on Friday with a 7-1 victory over the NC Dinos on the road.
Son A-seop smacked a pair of home runs, while Lee Dae-ho and Jeon Jun-woo also hit one homer apiece at Masan Stadium in Changwon, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, as the Giants evened their best-of-five first round series at two games apiece.
Lotte Giants outfielder Son A-seop (Yonhap)
Lotte starter Josh Lindblom struck out 11 in eight dominant innings, holding the Dinos to a run on five hits while walking none for his first postseason victory.
The deciding Game 5 will start at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Giants' home, Sajik Stadium in Busan, some 50 kilometers east of Changwon.
Son, the best Lotte hitter in the series, broke the scoreless deadlock with a solo shot in the top of the fourth off NC starter Choi Keum-kang. The Dinos tied the score in the home half of that inning on Kwon Hee-dong's RBI single, but the Giants broke the game open in the top fifth.
Andy Burns chased Choi from the game with a one-out double to the left-center gap. Burns moved to third on a groundout against new pitcher Won Jong-hyun, and No. 9 hitter Shin Bon-ki plated the go-ahead run with a swinging bunt down the third base line.
After another infield single, Son blasted a three-run jack to stake the Giants to a 5-1 lead.
Son, who hit a career-high 20 home runs in the regular season, flashed some opposite field power on Friday, as both of his homers landed in left-center seats.
The Giants piled on in the top sixth, as Lee Dae-ho, who had batted 6-for-13 in the series but without a homer or an RBI in it, jumped on Won's first pitch and sent it over the center field wall for a 6-1 lead
The Giants got another break in the seventh. They won a replay challenge after Jeon Jun-woo's two-strike swing on a pitch in the dirt, initially ruled a whiff, was called a foul tip. Given a reprieve, Jeon launched a solo home run to right field to put the Giants up 7-1.
Handed a comfortable lead, Lindblom settled in nicely. The right-hander, in his second start of the series, fanned two in the fifth and struck out the side in the sixth.
Lindblom had another three-up, three-down inning in the seventh, and he retired 12 batters in a row in one stretch.
Lindblom wasn't the original starter for Game 4, which would have been played on Thursday if not for heavy rains. The postponement afforded the right-hander an extra day of rest, and he tossed 112 pitches to save the taxed bullpen.
Son went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored to back Lindblom. Jeon also had two hits, including the seventh inning homer, and scored twice.
With a berth in the next round at stake, the Giants will send right-hander Park Se-woong to the mound in Game 5.
Park was 12-6 with a 3.68 ERA in the regular season, and 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA against the Dinos in three regular season starts.
The 21-year-old faltered badly in the second half, and was just 0-2 with an unseemly 9.42 ERA in his three September starts. Park's last appearance was Sept. 26. He would have started Game 4 if it had been played as scheduled on Thursday.
The Dinos will counter with right-hander Eric Hacker. He had a no-decision after limiting the Giants to a run in seven innings in Game 1 last Sunday. Over his last three starts, spanning 21 innings, he has an 0.86 ERA. (Yonhap)