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China scores first win in World Baseball Classic

Team China closer Chen Kun (33) celebrates on the mound after beating Team Taiwan in their World Baseball Classic game at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. AP

TOKYO – Ray Chang homered and drove in two runs as China beat Taiwan, 4-1, on Saturday for its first win in the World Baseball Classic.

China, managed by former major league manager Terry Collins, will next face the loser of Saturday’s late game between Japan and South Korea on Sunday for a chance to advance to the second round of the 16-nation tournament.

Taiwan, missing New York Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Kuo Hong-chih, was eliminated from the tournament.

Chang, who plays in the US minor leagues as part of the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system, also made his team’s final out with a slick play at shortstop.

“I’m just real pleased that I could help my team.”

Collins said Chang “played great for us”.

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“He has made good plays defensively and got some big hits. This is a great win for our team and all of China.”

Feng Fei gave China a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Hou Fenglian from third.

Chu Fujia scored on an infield single by Hou to put China ahead, 2-0, and Chang then drove in China’s third run of the game with a double to left, scoring Sun Lingfeng from second.

Peng Cheng-min got a run back for Taiwan in the top of the sixth with a single to center that scored Lin Che-hsuan.

Chang restored China’s three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo homer to left off Taiwan pitcher Ni Fu-ta.

China starting pitcher Lu Jiangang, formerly of the Chunichi Dragons in the Japanese league, gave up just one run over 5-1/3 innings to pick up the win.

China also defeated Taiwan, 8-7, in 12 innings at the Beijing Olympics, but had lost, 12-2, to the same opponent in the 2006 WBC, when the Chinese lost all three games.

The other teams in Group A, Japan and South Korea, were to play later Saturday with the winning team advancing to the second round of the WBC in the United States. (AP)

 

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