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WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

Big inning propels U.S. to 15-6 win over Venezuela

Two-run homer by Kevin Youkilis highlights an eight-run sixth, and U.S. secures a spot in the next round.

March 09, 2009|Phil Rogers

TORONTO — Like everyone else in charge of teams in the World Baseball Classic, Davey Johnson is conflicted. Is his priority to prepare players for the major league season or to win games?

It's a migraine headache trying to do both.

But Sunday night at the Rogers Centre, with flag-waving, drum-beating Venezuelan fans showing that they did not consider this a meaningless exhibition, Johnson found a way to do both in a 15-6 victory by the United States that wrapped up one of the two Pool C spots in the WBC semifinal that begins Saturday in Miami.

Johnson emptied his bench, starting all four position players who weren't in the lineup for the team's victory over Canada on Saturday. And the U.S. was on its way to a 2-0 record, one more step in an effort to spark the sort of national pride that follows baseball success in other countries.

"This was kind of what I expected from the get-go," said Adam Dunn, who joined Kevin Youkilis in hitting home runs for the second game in a row. "With [this] lineup, I don't know why we can't have a few of these nights."

Even with the firepower, Johnson isn't having many laughs.

"It hasn't been a whole lot of fun for me because you really aren't managing," Johnson said before the game. "You're really kind of [going on] who's available, you know? Do we have nine [innings] without pushing somebody?"

Johnson's peace of mind can't be helped by one development in Sunday's game. Chipper Jones, who is hitless in seven at-bats and has struck out five times, left in the sixth inning because of what was termed a mild strain of his right side.

Johnson had said for weeks he planned to rotate Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. But instead of just that one move, he essentially made a shift change, inserting Mark DeRosa, Curtis Granderson, Chris Iannetta and Rollins into the lineup, and they quickly paid him back.

Iannetta, the Colorado catcher, mashed a bases-loaded double against reliever Carlos Vazquez to break the game open in a sixth inning featuring eight runs, four hits and three walks. Youkilis added to the barrage with a two-run homer.

The three replacements at the bottom of the order -- DeRosa, Iannetta and Granderson -- were a combined five for 10 and drove in nine runs, including four apiece by DeRosa and Iannetta.

For practical purposes, the Americans' work in Canada is done. But they are required to stay for a pool championship game Wednesday. Left-hander Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs probably will start for the U.S.

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progers@tribune.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

World Baseball Classic schedule

All times Pacific; all games on MLB.TV, ESPN Deportes

ROUND 1

POOL A

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

March 5

Japan 4, China 0

March 6

S. Korea 9, Chinese Taipei 0

March 7

China 4, Chinese Taipei 1

Japan 14, South Korea 2

March 8

South Korea 14, China 0

Today

S. Korea vs. Japan, 2:30 a.m., ESPN2

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POOL B

Foro Sol Stadium, Mexico City

March 8

Cuba 8, South Africa 1

Australia 17, Mexico 7

TODAY

Mexico vs. South Africa, 7 p.m., MLBN

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POOL C

Rogers Centre, Toronto

March 7

United States 6, Canada 5

Venezuela 7, Italy 0

March 8

U.S. 15, Venezuela 6

Today

Italy vs. Canada, 3:30 p.m., MLBN

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POOL D

Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico

March 7

Netherlands 3,

Dominican Republic 2

Puerto Rico 7, Panama 0

March 8

Dominican Republic 9, Panama 0

Today

Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 3:30 p.m., MLBN

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ROUND 2

POOL 1

Petco Park, San Diego

Sunday-March 19

POOL 2

Dolphin Stadium, Miami

Saturday-March 18

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SEMIFINALS, FINAL

Dodger Stadium, March 21-23

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Source: mlb.com

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