TOKYO -- Jae Weong Seo pitched two-hit ball and Chan Ho Park worked three effective innings for a save to lead South Korea past Taiwan, 2-0, today in the opener of the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
The 16-nation tournament started at 11:30 a.m. local time and was played before a sparse crowd of 5,193 at Tokyo Dome. Japan was scheduled to play its first game later today against China.
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.
Park, who pitches for the San Diego Padres, gave up two hits in the ninth but got pinch hitter Chih-Yao Chan to ground out to end the game.
Sung Heon Hong and Jong Beom Lee each drove in a run for South Korea.
Hong doubled down the third base line, scoring Seung Yeop Lee from second. Lee walked to lead off the fourth and advanced to second on a ground out to first by Dong Joo Kim.
South Korea made it 2-0 in the next inning when Lee doubled off the wall in left scoring Jin Man Park.
Taiwan had a chance to cut the lead in the bottom of the sixth when it had runners at first and third with two outs, but New York Mets reliever Dae Sung Koo struck out pinch hitter Lung-Yi Huang to end the inning.
Taiwan starter En-Yu Lin was taken out after 65 pitches. He struck out four and gave up a run on three hits over 3 2/3 innings.
All Group A games are being played in Japan. The top two teams will advance to the second round in Anaheim, Calif., where they will face the top two teams from Group B, which includes the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South Africa.