Venezuela took vengeance on the US, after suffering a crushing defeat Sunday, with a 5-3 triumph in a World Baseball Classic game. "We had to make a statement. It was a very important game," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said.
AFP - Venezuela took vengeance for a blowout loss with a 5-3 triumph Wednesday over the United States in a World Baseball Classic game where US stars seemed more worried about shaking off rust than winning.
Three days after the Americans crushed Venezuela 15-6 to secure a berth in the second round, the South Americans pounded out 12 hits, seven of them for extra bases, and the US Major League Baseball stars stranded 10 base runners.
"Venezuela was always waiting for this win after they clobbered us. I think that was a wake-up call," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said. "We had to make a statement. It was a very important game and we did make a statement."
Venezuela qualified for round two on Tuesday by ousting Italy so the seeding game only helped decide pairings for Saturday's second-round openers at Miami, where the US will face Puerto Rico and Venezuela will play upstart Netherlands.
US manager Davey Johnson was concerned about playing time for his whole team after two days off following two games in as many days. While not wanting to lose, he hopes the work pays off in a double-elimination second round at Miami.
"I think everybody was feeling like it was a day to get some work in," said US manager Davey Johnson. "It's not a big deal win or lose. We still got to win two games in Miami. It doesn't matter whether we're the one seed or two seed."
Gregor Blanco pounded out three hits to spark Venezuela while catcher Henry Blanco smashed a home run and threw out potential tying run Derek Jeter on a steal attempt in the ninth inning to kill a US comeback bid.
"It had a little different feel, but you're still trying to win, to get your work in," New York Yankees star Jeter said. "We came here, did what we wanted. We advanced to the second round and we look forward to getting to Miami."
A Venezuelan side filled with major league talent frustrated some of the sport's greatest hitters, the relief pitchers earning special praise from Sojo.
"I was an important win because you are playing a real powerhouse," he said. "Our bullpen for us for a question mark for the whole tournament and they came through. The morale, the self-esteem, it's very important."
Delivering the first US loss was a big boost heading into a matchup Saturday with the Dutch, who ousted powerful Dominican Republic on Tuesday to advance.
"It gave us the confidence to get to Miami and know we can compete against the USA or any other team, especially our bullpen," Venezuela's Marco Scutaro said. "The first game they were a little intimidated but they did a good job."
Venezuela seized a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when Scutaro doubled to left field and scored when Gregor Blanco blasted a two-out triple. Scutaro made it 4-1 with a two-run single to left in the sixth and Melvin Mora singled in another run in the seventh.
A US rally began with Chris Iannetta's two-run homer in the eighth and the potential tying run reached base in the ninth when Jimmy Rollins walked and Jeter reached on an error by Venezuelan third baseman Luis Maza.
With two strikes on Boston's Kevin Youkilis, the runners attempted a double steal only to have Henry Blanco throw out Jeter at second base. Fernando Rodriguez struck out Kevin Youkilis on the next pitch to end the game.
Date created : 2009-03-12