Venezuelans snuff out U.S. comeback

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TORONTO --- Henry Blanco homered and made a key throw in the ninth inning as Venezuela beat the United States, 5-3, on Wednesday night to win Group C at the World Baseball Classic.

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U.S. starter Ted Lilly surrendered a home run to Venezuela's Henry Blanco during the third inning of Wednesday's game. The Venezuelans avenged Sunday night's 15-6 loss to the U.S.  Associated Press
Associated Press
U.S. starter Ted Lilly surrendered a home run to Venezuela's Henry Blanco during the third inning of Wednesday's game. The Venezuelans avenged Sunday night's 15-6 loss to the U.S.

Gregor Blanco added three hits for Venezuela, which avenged a 15-6 loss to the Americans on Sunday night. Both teams are headed to the second round of the tournament in Miami, where the U.S. will open against Group D winner Puerto Rico (3-0) on Saturday night.

Venezuela will face a surprising Netherlands team earlier in the day.

Chris Iannetta hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning but Team USA couldn't finish the comeback in the ninth.

Jimmy Rollins walked and Derek Jeter reached on a one-out error by Luis Maza. With cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis at the plate, the United States tried a double steal and Henry Blanco's strong throw cut down Jeter -- the trail runner -- at second base.

Francisco Rodriguez earned the save by striking out Youkilis.

Victor Zambrano allowed one run and three hits in 3w innings to earn the win. Venezuela's bullpen was tagged for 13 runs over five inning in Sunday's rout but redeemed itself in this one, with five relievers combining to allow two runs in six innings.

Puerto Rico 5, Netherlands 0

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Alex Rios hit an RBI triple and Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to finish undefeated in the first round.

Carlos Beltran, Ivan Rodriguez and Geovany Soto each drove in a run for Puerto Rico (3-0), which won Group D.

CHIPPER READY TO RETURN to lineup

TORONTO --- Chipper Jones took swings from both sides of the plate and fielded grounders before the United States faced Venezuela on Wednesday and said he'll be ready to play when the second round of the World Baseball Classic begins Saturday in Miami.

The Atlanta Braves third baseman, who is 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in the WBC, left Sunday's 15-6 win over Venezuela after five innings with a strain on his right side.


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