FUKUOKA – Lin Chih-ping went 4-for-5 to lead a 17-hit attack as a Taiwanese all-star team beat Japan 8-5 in an exhibition game on Tuesday.
Samurai Japan took a 2-1 lead into the third inning, but Wang Po-jung hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Takahiro Norimoto to turn the tide in favor of the visitors before a crowd of 22,477 at Yafuoku Dome in Fukuoka.
Kazuhisa Makita (Seibu Lions) relieved Norimoto in the fourth as the second of six Japan pitchers to take the mound but gave up four runs, including an RBI double and two-run double to Chen Chun-hsiu, in two innings.
Japan fought back in the seventh, when Ryosuke Kikuchi connected for a two-run triple off Darin Downs and came around to score on a Hayato Sakamoto groundout in a three-run frame.
The two-time World Baseball Classic champion wasted an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth with two outs and runners in scoring position, when Sakamoto grounded out to end the inning.
Sho Nakata of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters doubled to center in the bottom of the ninth but it proved too little, too late as Japan failed to win the first of a two-game exhibition series against Taiwan with only one week to go until the 16-nation WBC tournament gets under way.
The WBC begins in March with South Korea facing Israel at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. Japan’s first game is on March 7 against Cuba at Tokyo Dome.