Monday, March 09, 2009
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US routs Venezuela to reach 2nd round of WBC

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[March 09, 2009]  TORONTO (AP) -- The World Baseball Classic has been a blast so far for the United States.

Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer, Adam Dunn and Ryan Braun added solo shots and the United States powered its way into the second round of the WBC by beating Venezuela 15-6 on Sunday night.

DonutsChris Iannetta and Mark DeRosa each had four RBIs and Youkilis scored four times for Team USA, which broke it open with an eight-run sixth inning and finished with 16 hits.

"With that lineup, I don't see why we shouldn't have a few of those innings a night," Dunn said. "It was a lot of fun, but I don't think it was very unexpected on our side."

Every U.S. starter had at least one hit except for third baseman Chipper Jones, who was lifted in the sixth because of a mild strain on his side. Jones, 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in the WBC, will be evaluated again Monday.

"I got a good pitch to hit and tried to come out of my shoes to hit it," Jones said.

U.S. manager Davey Johnson said the Atlanta slugger could miss "a week or two."


"I told David Wright, 'This is probably the last time you're going to DH,'" Johnson said. "Anytime somebody has a little strain in the spring, you have to be real cautious."

Dunn was one of many U.S. players to rave about the chemistry and camaraderie that has quickly forged strong bonds among a team eager to make amends for a disappointing eighth-place finish at the 2006 tournament.

"It feels like we've been together for a long time," Dunn said. "I don't know if that's the way they designed it or what. It's a bunch of great guys and everyone gets along. It's amazing."

David Wright, who had three hits Sunday, said the Americans "clicked" from the first workout and have grown closer now that the competition is underway.

"It's not only a tremendous baseball experience, but also a personal experience to be around this group of guys and to have the fun we're having," Wright said. "On the field, in the clubhouse, it's just a blast to be a part of this."

Florida reliever Matt Lindstrom worked 1 1-3 perfect innings for the win before a crowd of 13,094.

Victor Zambrano took the loss, allowing four runs and two hits in one-plus inning.

Venezuela will play an elimination game Tuesday against the winner of Monday's game between Canada and Italy. The winner Tuesday advances to round two, and will face the U.S. on Wednesday night to decide first place in Group C.

Team USA will begin second-round play Saturday in Miami.

Melvin Mora's RBI single gave Venezuela a 1-0 lead in the third, but the U.S. answered with two in the fourth when DeRosa's two-out triple scored Youkilis and Dunn.

Venezuela reclaimed the lead in the bottom half against right-hander Roy Oswalt on Ramon Hernandez's RBI grounder and Gregor Blanco's run-scoring single.

The U.S. sixth began when Youkilis reached on a wild third strike. David Wright singled and Dunn walked to load the bases for DeRosa, who drove in a run with a walk. Left-hander Carlos Vasquez replaced Zambrano, but Iannetta greeted him with a three-run double to right-center, taking third as the throw went to the plate.

Vasquez struck out Curtis Granderson and was replaced by right-hander Yoel Hernandez, who walked Derek Jeter and gave up a two-run double to Dustin Pedroia. Braun batted for Jones and grounded out, but Youkilis capped the inning with a homer to left, his second in two games.

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Pedroia said Youkilis, his Boston teammate, "looks like he's got 500 at-bats under his belt."

"We had some huge hits at the right time to blow the game open," Pedroia said. "Youk is swinging the bat unbelievable right now. Hopefully we can keep it going."

Carlos Guillen hit a solo homer and Ramon Hernandez singled home Jose Lopez against right-hander Brad Ziegler in the sixth, but Dunn answered with a towering solo shot to right off Ivan Blanco in the seventh.

"I thought it was going to hit the top of the dome," Granderson said. "He crushed that ball."

DeRosa hit a sacrifice fly and Iannetta and Granderson had RBI singles as the U.S. tacked on three more in the eighth against left-hander Jan Granado.

The six Venezuelan relievers who followed starter Armando Galarraga allowed 13 runs in five innings, leaving manager Luis Sojo fuming.

"As a manager, this is what gets you really upset, because you want the guys to be aggressive," Sojo said through a translator. "You want the bullpen to execute, but that wasn't the case. After that point, everything was lost. They couldn't find the strike zone."

Oswalt allowed three runs and six hits in 3 2-3 innings, walking two and striking out one.

Galarraga allowed two runs and five hits in four innings.

Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, Venezuela's 4-5 hitters, combined to go 0-for-9 with three strikeouts.

Notes: Venezuelan fans jeered loudly when Victoria Mata, the country's Minister for Sport, threw out the first pitch. ... Johnson said before the game that coach Barry Larkin is responsible for splitting playing time between Jeter and Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. Jeter started Saturday but was replaced in the fifth, with the reverse happening Sunday. ... Rollins was picked off second after a leadoff double in the first, the second time in two days he's been thrown out on the bases. ... Lopez went 3-for-4 with three doubles, matching a WBC record. 

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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