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SK Wyverns advance to championship series in S. Korean baseball

   BUSAN (Yonhap) -- The SK Wyverns defeated the Lotte Giants 8-4 in the deciding fifth game of the second round of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) playoff on Sunday, reaching the championship Korean Series for a record fifth straight year.

   At the Giants' home Sajik Stadium here, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, first baseman Park Jung-kwon hit a pair of two-run home runs for the Wyverns and the bullpen was effective over the game's final eight innings.

   The defending champion Wyverns will face the Samsung Lions in the Korean Series starting Tuesday in a rematch of last year's championship round. The Wyverns swept the Lions in four games in 2010 to claim their third title in four seasons.

   The Lions secured the bye to the Korean Series by virtue of finishing first in the 133-game regular season with 79 wins, 50 losses and four draws.

   With Lotte leading 1-0 after Jeon Jun-woo's first-inning double, Park drilled a two-run shot off Lotte starter Song Seung-jun in the fourth to make it 2-1 for SK.

   Park Jae-sang's single and Lotte reliever Chris Bootchek's wild pitch put the Wyverns up 4-1 in the top fifth. Then in the sixth inning, Park Jung-kwon hit his second two-run homer of the game, this time off Bootchek, for a 6-1 cushion.

   The Giants cut the deficit to two in the bottom sixth thanks to back-to-back doubles by Hong Sung-heun and Kang Min-ho. But the Wyverns went up 8-4 in the eighth, thanks to Ahn Chi-yong's single followed by Kim Kang-min's double.

   SK's starter Kim Kwang-hyun lasted only an inning, while Lotte's Song was taken out after 4 2/3. It came down to the battle of the bullpens, and SK's four relievers held the Giants to three runs in the final eight innings. Lotte sent eight pitchers to the mound after Song, but they gave up six runs on nine hits.

   Park Jung-kwon was 2-for-5 with 4 runs batted in (RBI) and scored three times. A career .268 hitter in the regular season, Park is batting .414 in playoffs over his career, with nine home runs and 10 doubles.

   The Giants' leadoff man Kim Joo-chan went 4-for-5 in the losing cause. This was fourth straight postseason appearance by the Giants, but their last Korean Series appearance came in 1999.

   The first game of the best-of-seven Korean Series will be at the Lions' home of Daegu on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Playoff games will end in a tie if teams remain deadlocked after 15 innings.

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