Team USA rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit, scoring in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, but lost its World Cup opener for the second straight World Cup, losing 8-4 to Puerto Rico on a 10th-inning grand slam by minor league veteran Luis Figueroa (Mets).
Figueroa was the second batter of the 10th for Puerto Rico under international tiebreaker rules, with runners placed on first and second with no outs to start each inning. Reymond Fuentes (Padres), a 2009 first-round pick, beat out a bunt to load the bases against veteran lefthander Randy Williams (Red Sox), and Figueroa homered on a full-count pitch. The U.S. went down in order in the bottom of the 10th against winning pitcher Adalberto Flores (Rangers).
Team USA had a hard time getting started, as Phillies righthander Julio Rodriguez—who went 16-7, 2.76 at high Class A Clearwater this season, held the Americans scoreless into the fifth inning until hitting his pitch count. He got 13 outs, seven by strikeout, while giving up only one hit and three walks.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico jumped on veteran U.S. starter Todd Redmond (Braves) with three in the first, as the first four batters—Fuentes, Figueroa, ex-big leaguer Hiram Bocachica and Neftali Soto (Reds)—reached on singles or via walk.
The U.S. got on the board with a pair of runs off Jose de la Torre (Mets). Tommy Mendonca (Rangers) singled, and walks to Jordan Danks (White Sox) and Brett Jackson (Cubs) loaded the bases. Joe Thurston (Marlins) then greeted reliever Joe Torres (Rockies) with a two-run single to bring the Americans within a run.
Puerto Rico added a run in the ninth on Bocachica's double and a two-out single by Jesus Feliciano (Mets), but the U.S. rallied to tie in the bottom of the ninth. Matt Clark (Padres) singled, Chad Tracy (Rangers) walked and Mendonca sacrificed them up a base for Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), whose base hit scored a run. Jordy Mercer (Pirates) then tied the game with a fielder's choice. However, the U.S. left the potential winning run on as Thurston popped out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The U.S. got just eight hits but also nine walks and two hit batsmen, and counting the two extra-inning runners, Team USA left 18 runners on base and next plays Taiwan on Tuesday.
In other World Cup games:
• Canada got five scoreless innings from ex-big leaguer Shawn Hill and beat Japan 3-1 to move to 2-0. Skyler Stromsmoe (Giants) walked, stole a base and scored on a double by Jimmy Van Ostrand (Astros) in the first, and Cole Armstrong (Angels) hit a two-run double in the fourth to give Canada all the offense it needed. Hill gave up three hits and a walk while striking out three. Jimmy Henderson (Brewers) got the save for the Canadians, getting the last four outs.
• Veteran Fernando Seguignol hit a grand slam as host Panama beat Taiwan 14-8, dropping Taiwan to 0-2.
• South Korea edged Germany 6-5 in 10 innings, scoring two in the bottom of the 10th after the Germans had scored once in the top half.
• Miguel Gonzalez and Yadier Pedroso combined on a three-hit shutout, striking out nine, in Cuba's 3-0 victory against the Dominican Republic, beating Willy Lebron (Royals). Yulieski Gourriel had an RBI single and Alexei Bell added a two-run double in Cuba's three-run sixth inning.
• Italy shut out Australia 7-0, while the Netherlands crushed Greece 19-0 in a game called after five innings.
• Venezuela beat Nicaragua 5-2.
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