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03/07/2006 Archived Entry: "VIVA BEISBOL Extra (Mexican Pro Baseball News)"

Lopez pitches beautifully in first-game loss

PHOENIX – A pair of solo homers provided the United States with all the offense they needed as the USA defeated Mexico 2-0 in the opening game for both teams in the World Baseball Classic Tuesday afternoon in front of a boisterous Chase Field crowd of 32,727, including a large contingent of Mexican fans. The loss was assigned to Mexican starter Rodrigo Lopez, but the Baltimore Orioles hurler tossed an outstanding four innings for his home country in allowing just three hits and one walk. Unfortunately for Lopez, one of those hits was a home run into the right field bleachers by Chicago Cubs outfielder Derrek Lee that broke up a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth frame. After the game, Lopez was quoted by’s Steve Gilbert as stating, “It was an extremely emotional game for us…Anyone could have come up with the victory.”

Lopez gave way to Elmer Dessens in the fifth, and Dessens got the job done for Mexico with two score-free innings. However, Oscar Villareal came on in the seventh and coughed up a long ball to the USA’s Chipper Jones as Villareal hung a fastball out over the plate that Jones redirected into the left-center field seats. Ricardo Rincon and David Cortes wrapped up the game for the Mexicans with flawless outings as the Yanks collected just six hits against five pitchers over eight innings.

As well as the Mexicans pitched, the USA pitched even better. Mexico gathered just four singles in the game and none of their baserunners made it past first base. In fact, three of them were cut down on double plays with Lee taking a hand in all of them. Centerfielder Karim Garcia, coming off a season in Japan, went 2-for-4 for the game, while third baseman Vinny Castilla and catcher Geronimo Gil each had one safety. United States starter Jake Peavy allowed one hit and struck out three over three shutout innings, but left with the score at 0-0 and did not figure in the decision. USA manager Buck Martinez then installed a revolving door on the mound by parading out a different reliever each inning from the fourth through the ninth. Mike Timlin had a 1-2-3 outing in the fourth and got the win when Lee hit his homer in the bottom of the inning. Among the six Yank relievers, Joe Nathan was the most impressive by striking out the side in the eighth and Brad Lidge pitched an unblemished ninth inning for the save.

Despite the loss, Mexico answered the question of whether any of the other Pool B teams could hang with the powerful United States squad, who are prohibitive favorites to move on to the second round. The Mexicans will take the field with heads held high at Scottsdale Stadium tomorrow at 7PM local time when they face South Africa, a team of baseball neophytes with no major leaguers and just four minor leaguers on their roster.

WP-Mike Timlin. LP-Rodrigo Lopez. HR-USA: Derrek Lee, Chipper Jones.
SV-Brad Lidge. Attendance-32,727. Time-2:06.

TOMORROW’S GAME: Mexico vs. South Africa, Scottsdale Stadium, 7PM (MST).

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