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U.S., Japan Tie 8-8 in Goodwill Series’ Final Game

November 11, 1996

TOKYO, Japan (AP) _ A visiting American all-star team couldn’t hold two late leads and wound up with an 8-8 tie Sunday against a team of Japanese stars in the final game of an exhibition series.

The Americans finished with four victories, two losses and two ties.

Doubles by Ichiro Suzuki of the Japan champion Orix BlueWave and Hideki Matsui of the Central League winning Yomiuri Giants helped Japan take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Matsui hit the grand slam that gave Japan a victory in Game 7 on Saturday.

With two out and the bases loaded in the second, Minnesota Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch doubled home two runs with a shot that bounced off the shin of Giants pitcher Masaki Saito and ricocheted to third base.

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza hit a two-run homer in the third.

After Japan tied the game 4-4 in the sixth, the Americans replied with three runs in the bottom of the inning on RBI base hits by Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura and Colorado Rockies second baseman Eric Young.

Japan came right back with three runs in the eighth, scoring the tying run when Fukuoka Daiei Hawks outfielder Akihito Muramatsu stole third, knocked the ball out of Ventura’s glove with his slide and dashed home.

Ventura got the run back in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single over second base to score Seattle Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez, but Yakult Swallows catcher Atsuya Furuta then singled in the tying run in the top of the ninth.

San Diego Padres center fielder Steve Finley was named most valuable player of the series, and Japanese slugger Matsui was chosen as the outstanding player.

Finley said the $18,000 miniature silver pagoda he received from the newspaper Mainichi Shimbun was easily the most unusual baseball prize he ever has received.