Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Kosuke Fukudome hit back-to-back homers in the fifth inning yesterday to lead Japan to an 18-2 rout of China in the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo.
The game was called after eight innings under the tournament's mercy rule.
Seattle Mariners slugger Ichiro Suzuki, the only position player from the major leagues representing Japan, went 1 for 6 with an RBI. Hideki Matsui of the Yankees and infielder Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox opted to sit out the tournament.
China tied the score, 2-2, in the bottom of the fourth at Tokyo Dome on a two-run homer by catcher Wei Wang that just cleared the wall in right field.
Playing before a crowd of 15,869, Japan quickly regained the lead in the fifth inning and never looked back.
Nishioka, who drove in five runs, connected for a three-run homer to left and Fukudome followed with a solo shot to right that gave Japan a 6-2 lead.
South Korea 2, Taiwan 0 -- Jae-Weong Seo pitched two-hit ball and Chan Ho Park worked three effective innings for a save to lead South Korea in its first game before a sparse crowd of 5,193 at Tokyo Dome.
Seo started and struck out three in 3 2/3 innings. The Los Angeles Dodgers righthander threw 61 pitches -- under tournament rules, starting pitchers are limited to 65 pitches in the first round.
Team USA held its first workout yesterday at Chase Field, formerly known as
Manager Buck Martinez said Roger Clemens will start tomorrow's exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz. San Diego's Jake Peavy will start the opener against Mexico Tuesday. Wednesday, lefthander Dontrelle Willis of the Marlins will go against Canada. Clemens is scheduled to start the final game of the first round, March 10 against South Africa.