Baseball looked more like America's national pastime Sunday night.
MIAMI — Baseball looked more like America's national pastime Sunday night.
Team USA avoided elimination from the World Baseball Classic, beating the Netherlands 9-3 to ease the sting of a drubbing endured against Puerto Rico the night before.
Jimmy Rollins drove in four runs with a homer, triple and sacrifice fly, and Team USA newcomer Brian Roberts went 3-for-3 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs. Roy Oswalt pitched four scoreless innings, and six relievers completed a 12-hitter.
"We didn't want to go home quite yet," manager Davey Johnson said.
Even with a six-run lead in the eighth, the Americans remained combative. Matt Lindstrom gave up a leadoff homer to Bryan Engelhardt, who took a long look at his prodigious drive before jogging around the bases. Lindstrom's next pitch sailed behind Vince Rooi, and the pitcher conceded he was trying to send a message after Engelhardt's homer.
"I thought he took a little bit too long watching it," Lindstrom said.
When Lindstrom barely missed hitting Rooi, Dutch players took several steps onto the field as they yelled angrily at the pitcher. The shouting was in English, said Netherlands catcher Sidney de Jong.
"When you yell stuff like that, you want somebody to hear you," he said. "We had no doubt that was intentional."
"Classless," Dutch manager Rod Delmonico said.
Lindstrom retired Rooi, faced three more batters and left the game with a stiff pitching shoulder. He was scheduled for an MRI exam Monday.
"I'm not that worried," Lindstrom said. "I probably could have finished the inning, but they didn't want to take any chances."
Left fielder Ryan Braun departed in the eighth with a sore right side, and Team USA also lost Chipper Jones for the rest of the tournament. He was scratched from the designated hitter spot before the game after he aggravated a strain in his right side.
The injury-plagued Americans found themselves so short-handed that catcher Brian McCann played left field in the ninth.
Few fans were on hand to witness the Americans' turnaround. With a crowd of 11,059, the game had the atmosphere of a matchup between the Marlins and Nationals.
Still one loss from elimination, the United States will play Tuesday night against the loser of Monday night's game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Left-hander Ted Lilly is slated to pitch for the Americans. If they win, they'll advance to the semifinals next weekend in Los Angeles.
The Dutch were eliminated. Despite a roster sprinkled with minor league prospects, they became the surprise team of the tournament when they beat the Dominican Republic twice in the opening round.
"The next Classic, I know lots of people are going to respect us more, because nobody thought we would be here at this time," first baseman Randall Simon said.
The Americans bounced back from a loss Saturday that triggered the mercy rule when they fell 10 runs behind, ending their game against Puerto Rico in the seventh inning.
The rout left Team USA with an ERA of 7.22, but Oswalt and the bullpen shut down the Netherlands.
Oswalt (1-0) left with a 6-0 lead. He allowed five hits but struck out five and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third.
"You try to set a tone early," Oswalt said. "The first inning I don't think I threw one off-speed pitch. That's the mentality I try to take after a loss — don't go out there and be too fine."
LaTroy Hawkins, Scot Shields and Jonathan Broxton each pitched one scoreless inning.
Adam Dunn hit his third homer of the tournament, and Roberts sparked the offense only hours after joining the team as a replacement for second baseman Dustin Pedroia, sidelined by an abdominal injury.
"I said, 'I don't want to come play for one night,'" Roberts said. "I want this to last a little while."
The Netherlands contributed the defensive gem of the game. With the bases loaded, Simon fielded a grounder to his right. Spinning as he fell onto his back, he threw a three-hopper to the plate for a forceout and a place in the WBC highlight reel.
Marlins right-hander Rick VandenHurk (0-1), pitching in his home ballpark as the Dutch starter, lasted only two innings and allowed three runs, one earned.
Roberts singled in the first and scored the Americans' first run on a sacrifice fly by David Wright. Team USA added two unearned runs in the second when right fielder Dirk Van't Klooster dropped a two-out fly for a two-base error and Rollins homered.
Japan 6, Cuba 0
At San Diego, Dice-K is more than OK with the World Baseball Classic — and Petco Park.
Pitching in the same ballpark where he led Japan to the inaugural WBC title three years ago, Boston Red Sox ace Daisuke Matsuzaka was brilliant in silencing Cuba's previously undefeated big boppers, leading Japan to a 6-0 win in the second round on Sunday.
Matsuzaka improved to 5-0 in five WBC starts by holding Cuba to five singles in six innings while striking out eight and walking none. The right-hander with the slow-motion windup has two wins in this edition of the WBC and was the MVP in 2006, when he went 3-0. Matsuzaka beat Cuba 10-6 at spacious Petco Park in the championship game three years ago, triggering a celebration that was worthy of a World Series victory.
Cuba came in with 11 home runs, all hit at high altitude in Mexico City in the first round, when it went 3-0 to win Pool B. Seven of Cuba's eight hits Sunday were singles. Frederich Cepeda had three hits, including a double.
Matsuzaka got a nice ovation from Japanese fans and handshakes from teammates as he approached the dugout after striking out Yosvani Peraza to end the sixth. He threw 86 pitches. There's an 85-pitch limit in the second round, unless a pitcher needs more to complete a batter's plate appearance.
It was Japan's second shutout in this WBC. It beat China 4-0 in the first-round opener, with Yu Darvish getting the win.