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Dice-K sinks USA

Japan moves into WBC title game

Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka is undefeated in the World Baseball Classic. Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka is undefeated in the World Baseball Classic. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)
Associated Press / March 23, 2009
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America's national pastime took a major hit last night. On home turf, no less.

Daisuke Matsuzaka remained undefeated in the World Baseball Classic and defending champion Japan beat the United States, 9-4, in a semifinal at Dodger Stadium.

Japan advanced to tonight's title game against South Korea, a 10-2 winner over Venezuela in Saturday's semifinal. Japan won the inaugural tournament in 2006, defeating Cuba in the final.

Akinori Iwamura's RBI triple was the key hit in a five-run fourth inning, and the US was handed its first loss to Japan since the 2005 World Cup. The Americans had won four in a row, including an 8-4 victory in the bronze-medal game at the Beijing Olympics.

Matsuzaka allowed two runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Red Sox ace struck out four and walked three before being pulled when he reached 98 pitches, two shy of the 100-limit for the tournament's final two rounds.

Matsuzaka, who pitched six shutout innings against Cuba last Sunday, is 3-0 in this year's WBC, having allowed 14 hits and four runs in 14 2/3 innings. He went 3-0 and was selected tournament MVP three years ago.

Roy Oswalt was tagged with the loss, giving up six runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out one. The Houston Astros righthander was 1-1 in three WBC starts

Floyd gets $15.5m
Righthander Gavin Floyd and the Chicago White Sox agreed to a $15.5 million, four-year contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2013.

The 26-year-old was 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA for the White Sox last year and is 25-18 in 73 games over parts of five big league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and White Sox.

Floyd will make $750,000 this year, $2.75 million in 2010, $5 million in 2011, and $7 million in 2012, and the White Sox hold a $9.5 million option for 2013.

Floyd had been set to make $520,000 this year under a one-year deal agreed to Feb. 25. He would have been eligible for arbitration after this season and for free agency after 2012.

Chicago also traded minor league catcher Chris Stewart to the New York Yankees for future considerations.

Upton on slow track
Rays outfielder B.J. Upton needed X-rays on his hand after Red Sox minor league pitcher Stephen Fife hit him with a pitch Saturday in a minor league game. The X-rays were negative but manager Joe Maddon said it's still doubtful Upton will be ready for Opening Day April 6.

Though the hand injury isn't considered serious, Maddon said the team already was determined not to rush Upton back from offseason surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder.

"It's not a huge issue for me," said Maddon. "I want him healthy and well and ready, and I want him to have the kind of year he's capable of because he's healthy."

Upton, 24, hit nine home runs and batted .273 with 67 RBIs in 2008, when he also tied a postseason mark with seven homers.

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