Trailing by two runs through seven innings, Japan rallied to tie Taiwan in the eighth, scored again with two outs to knot the game again in the ninth, then won it in the 10th. While Taiwan put two runners on, Japan held on for a 4-3 victory in the first game of Pool 1 in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
The victory puts Japan in the same position as the Netherlands at 1-0 in the pool, with Cuba and Taiwan at 0-1. The two best records in the pool advance to San Francisco for the WBC semifinals.
Japan has won the first two WBCs but was coming off a fairly unimpressive performance in Pool A, where it won close games against Brazil and China and lost to Cuba. Japan had only one extra-base hit in Pool and and was scoreless through seven innings against Taiwan, with ex-big leaguer Wang Chien-Ming tossing six scoreless innings. Wang, formerly of the Yankees and Nationals, allowed six hits and a wlak and struck out one.
However, Japan rallied for two runs in the eighth with RBI singles by two Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, who were playing in their home ballpark. Shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and catcher Shinnosuke Abe had RBI singles to tie it up, but Taiwan got a run back in the bottom half to retake the lead.
Needing three outs for the win, Taiwan got close, two outs and infielder Takashi Toritani on first base. Toritani was able to steal second, though, and came home with the tying run on a single by Hirozau Ibata.
Japan then got the game-winner in the 10th on a sacrifice fly by Sho Nakata. The rally had started with a single by Ryoji Aikawa, Abe's replacement at catcher).
Righthander Kazuhisa Makita pitched around a left wrist injury in the ninth, when he made a diving catch of a bunt attempt, and pitched a shutout inning for the win. Lefthander Toshiya Sugiuchi gave up two hits in the 10th but got a double-play grounder to end the game and earn the save.