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WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

South Korea sails past Chinese Taipei in World Baseball Classic

A six-run first inning leads to a 9-0 victory. South Korea faces Japan Saturday.

March 07, 2009|Associated Press

TOKYO — South Korea made the most of a big first inning to dominate Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic at Tokyo.

Lee Jin-young hit a grand slam in a six-run first Friday to power the Olympic champion to a 9-0 win.

Kim Tae-kyun drove in two runs with a single and Lee gave South Korea a 6-0 lead at the Tokyo Dome with a towering blast to right field off Taipei pitcher Cheng Kai-wen.

"Getting those early runs made it easy for us," said South Korea Manager Kim In-sik. "Our pitchers also did a great job of holding the lead and this was a good start for us."

South Korea will face Japan today with the winner qualifying for the second round of the 16-nation tournament. Japan defeated China, 4-0, on Thursday in the opening game.

Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch for Japan with lefty Kim Kwang-hyun going for South Korea.

Cleveland Indians outfielder Choo Shin-soo, the only major leaguer on South Korea's roster, was the designated hitter and was one for three. Choo was cleared to play despite a sore arm.

South Korea added another run in the bottom of the fifth on an infield single by Lee Dae-ho, and Jeong Keun-woo hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to make it 9-0.

South Korea's 21-year-old starter, Ryu Jin-hyun, gave up one hit and struck out three over three innings to pick up the win.

"I sent out a young pitcher who was playing in Tokyo Dome for the first time," Kim said. "He did a great job and our hitters were able to capitalize on their opportunities."

South Korea, which went 9-0 to win the gold medal in Beijing, is in Pool A along with defending champion Japan, Taiwan and China.

The top two teams advance to the second round, which will be played in the United States. The final is March 23 at Dodger Stadium.

The South Koreans were missing several big names from the team that advanced to the semifinals of the 2006 WBC.

Lee Seung-yeop was a standout in the 2006 WBC and the Olympics, but decided to skip this year's tournament to prepare for the upcoming season with the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese league.

Pitcher Chan Ho Park, who threw 10 scoreless innings and recorded three saves for Korea in 2006, is competing for a spot in the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation.

South Korea and Japan are the favorites to advance to the second round in San Diego.

China 4, Chinese Taipei 1: Shortstop Ray Chang had three hits, including a home run and a double, and China won a Pool A elimination game at the Tokyo Dome today, putting Chinese Taipei out of the tournament.

Designated hitter Fenglian Hou also went three for four for China. Jiangang Lu pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and one run, to earn the win.

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