By Yoo Jee-ho
INCHEON, May 25 (Yonhap) -- For the past two days, the two best teams in South Korean baseball traded punches.
Then on Thursday, the LG Twins landed a big blow on the SSG Landers with an 8-3 victory to reclaim first place in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) at 28-15-1 (wins-losses-ties). The Landers dropped to 27-16-1.
Twins catcher Park Dong-won hammered a pair of home runs as part of his three-hit game, and now leads the KBO with 12 dingers. LG starter Casey Kelly won his fourth consecutive start of May after giving up three runs -- one unearned -- in six innings on five hits.
The two clubs entered the week tied for first place. The Twins gained sole possession of the top spot with a 9-1 win Tuesday, but the Landers responded with a 5-3 win Wednesday.
In Thursday's rubber match at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, some 30 kilometers west of Seoul, the Twins set the tone early with a five-spot in the top of the first. The outburst featured Park Dong-won's three-run blast off starter Song Young-jin.
Song gave up a leadoff double to Hong Chang-ki and walked the next two batters to load the bases. Two batters later, Oh Ji-hwan knocked in the game's first run with a single to left.
Moon Bo-gyeong's sacrifice fly made it 2-0 for the Twins. With two men still aboard, Park cleared the bases with a line drive shot over the left-center field fence, giving his team a 5-0 cushion.
The Twins tacked on a run in the top of the second inning with Moon Sung-ju's single, though they later stranded the bases loaded.
The Landers tried to capitalize on that slight opening, cutting the deficit in half in the bottom of the second.
With one out, Han Yoo-seom smoked a two-run home run off Kelly to put the Landers on the board at 6-2. Then with runners at first and second, second baseman Shin Min-jae fielded a grounder by Choi Ji-hoon but made a wild throw past first baseman Austin Dean, allowing the Landers to score their third run of the inning.
But Kelly settled down after that messy inning, giving up just two more hits over the next four scoreless innings.
After Song got the hook with two ugly innings in the books, the bullpen kept the Landers in the game, limiting the Twins to four hits over the next five frames.
But the string of zeroes was snapped in the top of the eighth, as Park blasted a solo shot off reliever Moon Seung-won for a 7-3 lead.
After a single and a sacrifice bunt, Hong Chang-ki put the game further out of the Landers' reach with an RBI single.
The Twins outhit the Landers 13-7