March 15, 2009 in Sports

Puerto Rico humbles U.S. team

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Puerto Rico’s Carlos Beltran gestures after hitting a solo homer against the U.S. team.
(Full-size photo)

The mercy rule is designed to spare Little Leaguers from humiliation, not a bunch of big league All-Stars.

But it was Jimmy Rollins, David Wright and their United States teammates who found themselves shuffling off the field in the seventh inning Saturday night at Miami. Puerto Rico scored four times in the seventh to complete an 11-1 victory that left Team USA on the ropes in round two of the World Baseball Classic.

“Everybody is embarrassed,” USA shortstop Derek Jeter said. “But 2-1 or 11-1, we’re still in the same position. You can’t sit around and hang your head too long.”

Carlos Beltran and Felipe Lopez homered, and Puerto Rico rocked Jake Peavy for six runs in the first two innings to send the U.S. team into the loser’s bracket. Roy Oswalt will start for the Americans when they face the Netherlands in an elimination game tonight.

To cap a Classic blowout, Mike Aviles hit a two-out, two-run single in the seventh, triggering the tournament’s 10-run rule and sending Puerto Rico players pouring out of the dugout in jubilation. Several players on both teams said they didn’t realize the game was over, including Puerto Rico’s hot-hitting Ivan Rodriguez.

“I was putting on my catching equipment,” he said. “When I walked out, I saw everyone on the field. I thought maybe somebody got hurt.”

Javier Vazquez (2-0) allowed one run in five innings for Puerto Rico, which remained unbeaten through four games. Rodriguez, playing in Miami for the first time since he helped the Marlins win the 2003 World Series, went 3 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI to hike his WBC batting average to .600 (9 for 15).

Puerto Rico advances to a winner’s bracket game Monday night against Venezuela. Monday’s winner advances to the semifinals next weekend in Los Angeles.

•Dustin Pedroia will miss the rest of the World Baseball Classic because of a strained muscle on his left side, but the injury isn’t considered serious.

The reigning A.L. MVP was replaced on Team USA’s roster by second baseman Brian Roberts of the Baltimore Orioles.

Venezuela 3, Netherlands 1: Miguel Cabrera and Jose Lopez each had solo home runs to power Venezuela past the Netherlands in the second round of the WBC.

In his first game back at Dolphin Stadium, Cabrera reached back to his Florida Marlins’ days with a line drive over the left-center field wall in the fourth that gave Venezuela the lead for good. Cabrera took his familiar slow walk down the first-base line, watching his ball sail over the scoreboard and sending fans of the red, yellow and blue into a flag-waving frenzy.

Carlos Silva allowed one run and four hits in seven innings.

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