By Wayne Graczyk
TOKYO—Pittsburgh Pirates farm hand Ray Chang had a single, double and a home run, and starting pitcher Lu Jiangang threw five shutout innings as underdog China shocked rival Taiwan with a 4-1 victory in Game 3 of the World Baseball Classic Pool A, Asia Round, at the Tokyo Dome on Saturday.
With the win, China earned the right to play against Korea on Sunday night, while Taiwan was eliminated from the tournament. China had also upset Taiwan in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
A crowd of 12,890 and scouts from at least 10 Major League teams were on hand as Chang, whose parents were born in China, drove in two of China’s four runs and made some sparkling defensive plays at shortstop. "I’m proud to be playing on the Chinese national team," he said on the post-game hero interview.China scored in the first inning off Taiwan starter Yueh-Ping Lin on a sacrifice fly to center by Fei Feng following a skillfully executed hit-and-run single by Chang. They added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on an infield single by Fenglian Hou and a double to left by Chang.
In the top of the sixth, Cheng-min Peng singled in Taiwan’s only run of the game, making it 3-1.
Chang iced the game with a homer over the left field wall in the eighth.
Taiwan starter Lin had to leave the game after passing the 70-pitch count limit dictated by the World Baseball Classic tournament rules after allowing four hits in four-and-two-thirds innings of work. He was charged with three runs and took the loss. Lu was the winning pitcher.
Following the game, China manager Terry Collins said, "This is a big day for our team and for China."
Collins took over for Jim Lefebvre who managed the Chinese team for five years through the Beijing Olympics. Taking what he describes as a "six-week gig" to guide China through the Classic, Collins was told, "You’ll go in, take two losses, and you’re done," but it did not quite work out that way.
Center fielder Lingfeng Sun went 1-for-3, scored a run and stole a base, and said afterwards, "This is best game we’ve ever played."