Team USA avenged its only loss of the 2009 World Cup by beating Venezuela 6-3 on Tuesday, the Americans’ 10th straight victory.
As usual, the Americans got a home run, with a solo shot in the fourth inning by Pedro Alvarez (Pirates). His fellow Pittsburgh farmhand, righthander Brad Lincoln, got the victory, pitching 6 2/3 innings in his second start against Venezuela during the tournament. The Americans had lost 13-9 to Venezuela in extra innings in the World Cup opener for both teams, back on Sept. 10.
Venezuela rallied to put the tying run on base in the ninth as U.S. reliever Nate Field (Marlins) walked the first two batters of the inning. However, Field got a pair of outs and Geno Espineli (Giants) retired Luis Landaeta on the liner to second baseman Tug Hulett (Royals) to end the game and pick up the save.
Hulett had two hits and two RBIs, driving in the first run of the game with an RBI double in the third inning. That was the first of a four-run frame, as he later scored on a fielder’s choice and Terry Tiffee (Phillies) added a two-run single to cap the frame. After Alvarez’s homer in the fourth, Team USA got its sixth and final run in the sixth when Hulett walked with two outs, advanced on a single by Buck Coats (Blue Jays) and scored on Trevor Plouffe’s single, which extended Plouffe’s hitting streak to 10 games.
The victory gives Team USA a 4-0 record in the third round, as the U.S. carries over its 3-0 second round mark against the other three teams in its pool into the third round.
In other third-round games:
• Cuba got a two-run homer in the first inning by Alfredo Despaigne, his seventh in 11 games, and that was enough for Norge Vera and Pedro Luis Lazo, who handled Australia in a 2-1 victory. Cuba had just three hits but didn’t need any more offense after the first. Vera pitched 6 2/3 innings, while Lazo went the last 2 1/3.
• Brett Lawrie (Brewers) broke a scoreless tie in the ninth inning with a leadoff solo home run, and Rene Tosoni (Twins) gave the Canadians a cushion with a two-run double later in the inning as Canada beat Puerto Rico 3-0. Nick Bucci (Brewers) pitched five no-hit innings as Canada’s pitchers held Puerto Rico to one hit. Trystan Magnuson (Blue Jays) gave up the hit (to Jose Valentin in the seventh) in two scoreless innings, while Dustin Molleken (Pirates) got the win with a scoreless eighth. Jimmy Henderson (Brewers) finished up for the save in the ninth inning. Former Mets farmhand Orlando Roman got the loss for Puerto Rico.
• Lefthander Alexander Smit (Reds) pitched six strong innings, and the Netherlands put the game away with seven runs in the fifth inning to beat Taiwan 11-2. The Dutch had 15 hits, a team-best three by Randall Simon, who also had three RBIs.