Top News

Rodriguez lifts U.S. to win over Japan

Updated: 2006-03-13 15:22
Large Medium Small

ANAHEIM, March 12 (Reuters) - Alex Rodriguez stroked a two-out bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the U.S. a riveting 4-3 victory over Japan on Sunday, in a World Baseball Classic showdown between the sport's two superpowers.

Rodriguez, who had suffered jeers during the 16-nation tournament, was showered with cheers and mobbed by team mates when he lined a sharply hit ball off the glove of relief pitcher Fujikawa Kyuji scoring Randy Winn with the deciding run to give the U.S. a winning start to second round play.

"It was a big win for us," said New York Yankee Rodriguez, who waffled between playing for his native Dominican Republic and the U.S. before finally settling on an American uniform.

"We learned in the first round losing to Canada, every game is extremely important."

It was a crushing defeat for Japan who had led 3-0 after two innings and never trailed until Rodriguez's game-winning hit.

Tied 3-3, Japan had looked to retake the lead in the top of the eighth when they loaded the bases on U.S. reliever Joe Nathan and Tsuyoshi Nishioka came home on Akinori Iwamura's short sacrifice fly.


But Nishioka was called out for leaving the third base early bringing Japan manager Sadaharu Oh and a translator out of the dugout to argue the call.

Japan again loaded the bases in the ninth but failed to cash in the go ahead run, Brad Lidge striking out Hiyoshi Tamura to end the threat.

Even though the U.S. and Japan arrived in the second round as group runners-up, the contest was the first true marquee clash of the tournament.

With the world's two top professional leagues to draw from, the U.S. and Japan fielded talent-rich teams creating an instant rivalry and an intensity level that had not been seen during opening round matches in the United States.

   Previous Page 1 2 Next Page