|After delivering a beating, David Wright absorbed one. Following his decisive two-run single in the ninth, Wright was mobbed by US teammates, including Kevin Youkilis and Derek Jeter. (Scott Audette/Reuters)|
Wright's single saves US
Hobbled and humbled in the World Baseball Classic, Team USA is still swinging.
David Wright sliced a two-run single that capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning last night in Miami, and the injury-plagued Americans qualified for this weekend's semifinals with a 6-5 win over Puerto Rico.
Wright's hit with one out eliminated Puerto Rico. The Americans advanced to the next round at Dodger Stadium.
"That situation is what you dream about when you're a kid," Wright said.
It was an especially sweet victory for the US after Saturday's embarrassment against Puerto Rico that triggered the mercy rule when the Americans fell 10 runs behind, ending the game in the seventh inning.
This time they played a full nine, saving their best for last in the 3-hour-54-minute marathon.
Trailing, 5-3, Team USA began its rally when Shane Victorino and Brian Roberts singled to start the ninth against J.C. Romero. Derek Jeter flied out, Roberts stole second, and Jimmy Rollins walked on a 3-2 pitch.
Fernando Cabrera came on to pitch, and he walked Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis - who had hit a solo homer in the third that gave the US a short-lived 3-1 lead - to force in a run.
Wright then lined a 2-1 pitch just inside the right-field line, raising his fist when the ball dropped in. The Mets star was mobbed by teammates near second base after two runs scored.
"You're celebrating a game," Youkilis said. "You're celebrating a nation."
The clutch hit came after the Americans stranded seven runners in scoring position in the first eight innings.
Alex Rios homered in the second and singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth for the Puerto Ricans. They totaled only five hits.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says Dr. Michael Ciccotti reported no structural damage to the joint after looking at the lefthander's pitching elbow yesterday in Philadelphia.
Last season's World Series MVP received an injection to relieve inflammation and should be cleared to throw by tomorrow.
Hamels's status for the April 5 opener against Atlanta is unclear.
The reigning Cy Young winner gave up 10 runs, 9 earned, on 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings during the Indians' 11-5 loss.
The Rangers opened the game with three straight hits and had a four-run first inning. They added six in the third.
"Today I was working on locating fastballs and they caught on to what I was doing early on," Lee said. "Whatever."
No timetable has been set for Hoffman's return. Macha said trainers aren't overly concerned about the injury.
The 41-year-old Hoffman has missed one scheduled appearance this spring.