The NC Dinos' players celebrate after winning Game 5 of the Korean Series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
The NC Dinos are one win away from capturing their first South Korean baseball championship.
Starter Koo Chang-mo fired seven shutout innings, and cleanup Yang Eui-ji blasted a two-run home run in the bottom sixth, lifting the Dinos to a 5-0 victory in Game 5 of the Korean Series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Monday.
Yang's shot followed Aaron Altherr's tiebreaking RBI single in the fifth. The Dinos added two insurance runs in the seventh.
After their second straight shutout, the Dinos lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. They can clinch the title in Game 6, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. start on Tuesday at the dome. They won Game 4 by 3-0.
In 37 previous Korean Series, teams have been tied at two games apiece nine times. And Game 5 winners went on to win the title on seven occasions.
The game had the makings of a pitching duel between the two starters, as Koo and his counterpart, Chris Flexen, traded zeroes through the first four innings.
It wasn't for the lack of chances by the two lineups.
The Bears couldn't cash in after putting two aboard with a one-out walk and a follow-up double in the second inning. Park Sei-hyok and Oh Jae-il, a combined 5-for-28 (.179) this series before Monday, lined out and grounded out to kill the rally.
Back-to-back singles with two outs in the top third amounted to nothing for the Bears, as Kim Jae-hwan hit a soft grounder to first for the final out.
The Dinos had their first opportunity go to waste in the bottom fourth. After being held without a baserunner against Flexen, the Dinos got consecutive two-out singles ahead of Kang Jin-sung, who struck out swinging on a high fastball.
The Dinos finally solved Flexen in the bottom fifth. No Jin-hyuk drew a four-pitch walk to lead things off, and reached second on a grounder. Aaron Altherr then hit a single to center, with No just beating the throw home with a head-first slide that made it 1-0 Dinos.
Yang then gave the Dinos a 3-0 advantage. Following Na Sung-bum's one-out single, Yang jumped on a 1-2 curveball from Flexen and drove it to straightaway center for his second career postseason home run.
Yang was the 2016 Korean Series MVP for the Bears when they swept the Dinos, and now he's inflicting damage on his former team.
Yang also drove in the winning run with an RBI single in a 3-0 victory in Game 4 on Saturday.
The Dinos scored twice against the Bears' subpar bullpen in the seventh. With two aboard at one out, Mo Chang-min delivered a pinch-hit single, and Na Sung-bum followed with an RBI single of his own -- his third hit of the game.
Koo was hooked after allowing a leadoff triple to begin the eighth, but Kim Jin-sung and Won Jong-hyan slammed the door shut for the Dinos' second straight shutout.
The Bears' last run came in the bottom seventh in a 7-6 win in Game 3 on Friday. They became only the second team -- after the
2007 Bears -- to be shut out in two straight Korean Series games. (Yonhap)