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WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC

David Wright rallies the U.S. past Puerto Rico

His bases-loaded single gives the U.S. a 6-5 victory and a berth in the semifinals.

March 18, 2009|Juan C. Rodriguez

MIAMI — After Puerto Rico mercy-ruled Team USA in the second-round opener Saturday, Manager Davey Johnson said he felt sorry for whomever had to play his club in Tuesday's elimination game.

Johnson indeed left Dolphin Stadium feeling sorry for an opponent, but the overwhelming emotions were pride and elation after his club overcame a two-run, ninth-inning deficit.

With one run in, one out and the bases loaded, David Wright sent a Fernando Cabrera offering into short right, bringing home two runs and sending his club to a 6-5 victory.

Wright's hit, coupled with Puerto Rico's inability to find the zone in the ninth, put Team USA in this weekend's semifinals at Dodger Stadium.

Today, the Americans will face fellow qualifier Venezuela to determine the pool winner.

"You're talking about representing the United States of America," Wright said. "You have that across the top of your chest. To be able to get that hit, that's got to be right up there at the top of the list."

Puerto Rico left-hander J.C. Romero recorded the final out in the eighth with the tying run on second, but he gave up singles to Shane Victorino and Brian Roberts to start the ninth. He walked the bases loaded with one out, then Cabrera walked Kevin Youkilis on five pitches to make it a one-run game.

Wright got ahead 2-and-0 and poked the 2-and-1 fastball into right, ending a contest that resembled a Yankees-Red Sox playoff game in intensity, drama and duration -- six minutes shy of the four-hour mark.

"I didn't get quite the pitch I was looking for, but I hit it in the right spot," Wright said. "Every hitter in that dugout wants to be up in that situation. . . . I wanted to stay selective. You have that excitement going and that energy going. You don't want to get out of your element."

Youkilis, who has been part of two World Series-winning teams with the Red Sox, said: "The dog pile is the same. That was nuts to be able to do that. You're celebrating the game. You're celebrating the nation."

U.S. outfielder Ryan Braun was not available Tuesday. The Milwaukee Brewers left fielder did not undergo an MRI exam, but he said Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin requested he sit out.

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jcrodriguez@sunsentinel.com

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World Baseball Classic

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

ROUND 2

POOL 1

Petco Park, San Diego

Sunday

Japan 6, Cuba 0

South Korea 8, Mexico 2

Monday

Cuba 7, Mexico 4

Tuesday

Japan vs. South Korea, late

Today

Cuba vs. Japan-South Korea loser, 8 p.m.

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POOL 2

Dolphin Stadium, Miami

Saturday

Venezuela 3, Netherlands 1

Puerto Rico 11, U.S. 1

Sunday

U.S. 9, Netherlands 3

Monday

Venezuela 2, Puerto Rico 0

Tuesday

U.S. 6, Puerto Rico 5

Today

U.S. vs. Venezuela, 4 p.m.

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SEMIFINALS, FINAL

Dodger Stadium, Sat.-Mon.

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latimes.com/sports

South Korea

vs. Japan

To get the result of Tuesday's late game, read Kevin Baxter's story on our website.

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