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Rodriguez lifts U.S. to win over Japan

Updated: 2006-03-13 15:22
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"It was very tense ... things got very tense at the end," said U.S. manager Buck Martinez. "It was a great atmosphere. Our guys gave 100 percent.

"We expected a very tough game from Japan."

Ichiro Suzuki, the American League MVP and rookie of the year in 2001, put the U.S. in an early hole with a lead off home run to open the game.

While the crowd of 32,896 were still settling in on a chilly, overcast day the Seattle Mariners all-star took a 1-1 offering from U.S. starter Jake Peavy and pounded it into the right field bleachers.

Japan added two more runs in the second, Munenori Kawasaki lining a single to left bringing across Kosuke Fukudome and Iwamura for a 3-0 lead.

Chipper Jones answered back for the Americans in the bottom of inning with a towering home run but the U.S. could not get level until the sixth when Derrek Lee crushed a two-run shot to deep centre.

"We have been focusing on this game and we put everything we had into it," said Suzuki. "It's such a shame and a pity.

"We all had strong feelings about this game."

South Korea takes on Mexico in another second round match at Angels stadium later on Sunday.

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