Wright lifts U.S. into semis
MIAMI — 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, 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.
"That situation is what you dream about when you're a kid," he said.
The Americans advanced to the next round at Dodger Stadium. It was an especially sweet victory after Saturday's humiliation against Puerto Rico that triggered the mercy rule when the Americans fell 10 runs behind, ending the game in the seventh inning.
"Getting a crack at a team that embarrassed us a few days earlier, to have the resiliency to bounce back in the ninth and steal one from them was pretty big," Wright said.
This time the teams played a full nine, and the Americans saved their best for last in the 3-hour, 54-minute marathon.
"They kept on the heat, and they didn't give up," Puerto Rican manager Jose Oquendo said.
Trailing 5-3, Team USA began its rally when St. Anthony alum Shane Victorino, who went 3 for 4, and Brian Roberts singled to start the ninth against J.C. Romero (1-1). Derek Jeter flied out, Roberts stole second and Jimmy Rollins walked on a 3-2 pitch.
"We just had to string them together, and we were able to do that," Rollins said.
Fernando Cabrera came on to pitch, and he walked Kevin Youkilis 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.
HAMELS CAN THROW
Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels will return to camp in Clearwater, Fla., after a team physician found no damage in his sore left elbow.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says Dr. Michael Ciccotti reported no structural damage to the joint after looking at the left-hander's pitching elbow yesterday in Philadelphia.
Last season's World Series MVP received an injection to relieve inflammation and should be cleared to throw tomorrow.
Athletics: Oakland released catcher Rob Bowen yesterday, likely opening the door for former first-round pick Landon Powell to back up Baldwin High alum Kurt Suzuki. Powell, who will turn 27 tomorrow, was the A's top pick in the 2004 draft.
Brewers: Milwaukee manager Ken Macha says closer Trevor Hoffman, baseball's all-time saves leader, has been sidelined by a strain on his right side. No timetable has been set for the 41-year-old Hoffman's return.
Royals: Sidney Ponson, a 32-year-old right-hander, will get another chance to pitch, this time with Kansas City. Coming off two starts for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, Ponson signed a minor league contract and was invited to big league camp.