• Jones, Hosmer lead US past Canada
    THe Associated Press | March 12,2013
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    Adam Jones connects for a hit in the ninth inning during Sunday’s World Baseball Classic game against Canada on Sunday, in Phoenix.
    PHOENIX — Running out of outs, Adam Jones and the United States suddenly broke loose and saved themselves from a humbling loss.

    Now, thanks to a fast finish, they’re heading to Miami for the next round of the World Baseball Classic.

    Jones doubled in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning, Eric Hosmer hit a three-run double in the ninth and the U.S. scored seven times in the last two innings to beat Canada 9-4 on Sunday.

    “Words can’t describe it,” Hosmer said, recalling how he felt standing on second base after his big hit. “It is hard to hold your emotions right there. It is just an unbelievable feeling and when you hear the crowd chant `USA’ and the other crowd chanting `Canada,’ it is an unbelievable experience.”

    The winner of the game moved on, the loser went home. And for a long while, it didn’t look good for manager Joe Torre’s team.

    “It would have been embarrassing,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “I would have been embarrassed. USA, this is where baseball started and we represent our country. I just feel that if we had lost, we didn’t do our job. We have to go out there and try to be the first American team to win the WBC. That is our goal.”

    The U.S. trailed 3-2 after seven innings before rallying. Team USA and Italy each went 2-1 and advanced in Group D while Canada and Mexico went 1-2 and were eliminated.

    “We believed in ourselves and turned it around,” Phillips said, “and that is a beautiful thing.”

    Jones and Hosmer both had a rough week at the plate but came through with the United States on the brink of defeat. Jones’ hit was his second in nine at-bats. Hosmer, a late replacement on the U.S. roster for injured Matt Teixeira, was 3 for 13.

    Torre said the U.S. lineup had too much talent not to finally come through.

    “Those two balls that were hit, both Jones and Hosmer, were about as hard as you’ll ever see,” Torre said, “because I think both times the center fielder thought he had a shot at it, and he just had no chance. That ball just took off over their heads. They creamed those.”

    Phillips, a three-time Gold Glove winner, also contributed. He made a diving stop to prevent Canada from tying it in the eighth, then doubled and scored in the ninth.

    Heath Bell pitched a scoreless seventh for the win. Jimmy Henderson took the loss.

    Canada’s Michael Saunders, of the Seattle Mariners, hit a two-run homer off starter Derek Holland and was chosen the Group D MVP, going 8 for 11 in the tournament with seven RBIs.

    “It’s an honor,” Saunders said, “but it’s really kind of a sour taste in my mouth right now.”

    Canada manager Ernie Whitt called Saunders “an up-and-coming outfielder that’s going to be a superstar.”

    The United States won Group D, taking the tiebreaker thanks to its 6-2 victory over the Italian squad. The U.S. plays Group C runner-up Puerto Rico on Tuesday night in Miami. Italy faces the Dominican Republic, which went 3-0 to win Group C.

    David Wright, whose grand slam lifted the U.S. past Italy on Saturday night, doubled and walked three times. Ben Zobrist had three hits, none of which left the infield.

    Canada, coming off a 10-3 win over Mexico that featured a bruising ninth-inning brawl, finished 1-2. The Canadians have not made it out of the first round in any of the three WBCs.

    They looked in great shape much of the afternoon against the United States, which was looking to avoid its worst showing ever in the tournament. The Americans made it to the second round in 2006 and the semifinals in 2009.

    For the third straight game, the U.S. fell behind early.

    Justin Morneau, 8 for 12 in the tournament for Canada, doubled to start the second, then Saunders hit Holland’s 1-0 pitch into the bullpen down the right-field line to make it 2-0.

    The U.S. tied it with two runs in the fourth, one unearned.

    Joe Mauer led off with a single and Wright walked. Zobrist put down a near-perfect bunt for a base hit, with third baseman Taylor Green throwing wildly to first and allowing a run to score. Jones’ sacrifice fly to center brought in the tying run.

    Green, playing third for Canada because Brett Lawrie was hurt just before the WBC began, also had an error in the second when he dropped Zobrist’s high pop fly in the bright sunlight.

    Canada regained the lead at 3-2 in the sixth. Joey Votto drew a leadoff walk from reliever Glen Perkins and went to second on Morneau’s single. Saunders struck out looking and Chris Robinson flied out, advancing the runner to third. Adam Loewen’s first-pitch single brought Votto home.

    Mauer opened the eighth with a single, then Wright walked. Torre made an aggressive move when, with Willie Bloomquist pinch running for Mauer, he sent both runners on Henderson’s 1-2 pitch to Jones. Jones connected, bringing both runners home and the United States had the lead for good. Shane Victorino singled Jones home to make it 5-3.

    Canada made it a one-run game in its half of the eighth but would have tied it had it not been for a spectacular defensive play by Phillips. His diving stop of Loewen’s bases-loaded grounder allowed one run to score, but kept the U.S. in the lead.

    The U.S. broke it open against Scott Mathieson and closer John Axford in the ninth.

    Phillips started it with a double. Jonathan Lucroy had an RBI single, then Wright walked once again. Axford came on and allowed an infield single to Zobrist. Jones struck out, but Hosmer cleared the bases with a shot to deep center.

    Torre benched Miami’s dynamic young slugger Giancarlo Stanton in favor of Victorino in left field. He also moved Ryan Braun to designated hitter and put Zobrist in right. Mauer, the DH in the first two games, was the starting catcher. Stanton was hitless in the first two games, although he did have a pair of deep fly balls in the opening loss to Mexico.

    Japan 16, Netherlands 4

    TOKYO — Two-time defending champion Japan hit a record-tying six home runs, scoring in all seven innings Sunday to rout the Netherlands 16-4 and reach the World Baseball Classic semifinals.

    Japan built a 12-0 lead by the sixth inning, when the Netherlands closed on Wladimir Balentine’s three-run double and Andruw Jones’ RBI single.

    Hayato Sakamoto’s grand slam in the seventh that made it 16-4 and tied the team record of six homers, set by Cuba against South Africa in 2009. The game was called under the 10-run mercy rule when the Netherlands failed to close the gap in the bottom half.

    “We’ve achieved our first goal of advancing to the final round,” Japan manager Koji Yamamoto said. “The hitters swung the bats today, and getting some early runs was a huge boost for us.”

    Takashi Toritani homered leading off the game, the first home run for Japan in five games at 16-nation tournament.

    Nobuhiro Matsuda widened the lead to 3-0 with a two-run homer in the second, and Seiichi Uchikawa made it 6-0 with a three-run drive that chased Rob Cordemans, who allowed six runs and five hits in 1 1-3 innings.

    Atsunori Inaba hit a solo homer in the third against Tom Stuifbergen, and Yoshio Itoi had a three-run homer in the fourth. Sakamoto’s slam came off Berry Van Driel.

    Japan outhit the Dutch 17-6. The Netherlands plays Cuba on Tuesday, with the winners joining Japan in the semifinals at San Francisco on March 17 or 18,

    Japan scored 17 runs in its first four games of the tournament and wasn’t expected to rely on the long ball. Yamamoto’s team has no players from the American major leagues.

    Kenta Maeda allowed one hit in five innings, struck out nine and walked one.

    “My fastball and offspeed pitches were working well today,” Maeda said. “I knew it was a big game, so just tried to stay calm and pitch in my usual way. We’re happy to be going to the United States.”



    Dominican Republic 4, Puerto Rico 2

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Robinson Cano homered and the undefeated Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico 4-2 on Sunday night to win their first-round group in the World Baseball Classic.

    The New York Yankees slugger had three hits to help the Dominicans finish 3-0 in Group C. Next, they move on to the second round in Miami, where they will play Group D runner-up Italy on Tuesday.

    “We want to get off on the right foot and win the first game,” third baseman Hanley Ramirez said.

    Puerto Rico took a 2-1 lead on Mike Aviles’ two-run homer in the fourth inning, but Cano tied it with a solo shot in the fifth.

    Alejandro De Aza doubled home the go-ahead run in the sixth and Nelson Cruz added an RBI groundout in the seventh. Fernando Rodney pitched a hitless ninth for his second save.

    Puerto Rico finished second in the group with a 2-1 record and advanced to face the United States, which won Group D, on Tuesday night in Miami.
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