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U.S. pitchers strong in win over Mexico


Published: Wed, March 8, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


Jake Peavy and the bullpen combined on a four-hitter in the opener.
PHOENIX (AP) -- One after another, the American pitchers were untouchable. A pair of big blows provided all the help they needed.
Jake Peavy and a parade of relievers combined on a four-hitter against a lineup loaded with major leaguers Tuesday, leading the United States to a 2-0 victory over Mexico in its World Baseball Classic debut.
Home runs by Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones were all that was necessary on offense.
"Today I felt proud," Lee said. "I felt like the whole country was watching."
Lee hit a 1-1 pitch from starter Rodrigo Lopez over the right-field fence and Jones homered on the first pitch he saw in the tournament -- off Oscar Villarreal in the seventh.
Players take pride
These U.S. stars have been talking pride and patriotism since gathering on Friday.
"I've never had a better feeling in my life," Peavy said. "It was the coolest thing I have ever done when Team USA took the field today."
Added Jones, "I probably had more butterflies today than any playoff games."
Peavy allowed one hit -- an infield single by Karim Garcia that easily could have been ruled an error on second baseman Chad Utley to start the game.
Strong bullpen
The 24-year-old San Diego Padres right-hander struck out three, throwing just 23 pitches. Mike Timlin, Chad Cordero, Dan Wheeler, Todd Jones, Joe Nathan and Brad Lidge each threw an inning of relief for the U.S. squad, which has 11 relievers on its roster.
"Our bullpen is ridiculous," Lee said. "I kind of felt sorry for those guys having to face them."
The U.S. pitchers combined for nine strikeouts and no walks, shutting out Mexico in only 2 hours, 6 minutes.
No Mexican hitters got beyond first. Three baserunners were erased on double plays.
"It was a good game," Mexico manager Paquin Estrada said through a translator, "but there really was no room for mistakes. There were two hits, and it was just a matter of pitching."
From the first pitch, it was apparent this was no spring training game.
The crowd of 32,727 at Chase Field -- formerly known as Bank One Ballpark -- was loud and lively with Mexican supporters waiving their red, white and green national flags and chanting "Me-xi-co! Me-xi-co!" When a U.S. batter got two strikes, there were shouts of "ponche" -- strikeout.
"I thought it was awesome," Jones said. "I thought it was electric. The Mexican fans brought a lot of electricity to the game."
Two long balls
The United States had the first scoring threat when Randy Winn led off the third with a single to right. After two outs, Derek Jeter bounced a single up the middle to put runners at first and third. But Ken Griffey Jr. popped up to left to end the inning.
Lopez, a right-handed starter for the Baltimore Orioles, allowed one run and three hits in four innings, striking out one and walking one. The lone run he gave up was Lee's two-out homer in the fourth.
"I was trying to throw a good fastball down and away," Lopez said. "I just left it up a little bit. Like I say, this guy's got tremendous power. This guy is an All-Star."
The lead remained 1-0 until Jones replaced Alex Rodriguez at third in the top of the seventh. With one out, he hit the first pitch from his new Atlanta teammate Villarreal some 396 feet to the seats in left-center.
"Just another huge thrill, another career highlight," said Jones, who homered in the U.S. exhibition victory against San Francisco on Saturday.
Pitchers can throw no more than 65 pitches per game in the first round because they still are in the spring training mode.
MEXICOUNITED STATES
abrhbiabrhbi
KGarcia cf4020Damon lf3010
Cantu 2b4000Francoeur rf1000
Castilla 3b3010Jeter ss3010
Durazo dh3000Young ss1000
LAGarcia lf2000Griffey cf2000
Amezaga ph1000Barrett c1000
Cruz lf0000Rodriguez 3b3010
AGonzalez 1b3000Wells pr-cf0000
Gil c3010Teixeira dh3000
Valenzuela rf2000Lee 1b3111
LCGarcia ph-rf1000Schneider c2000
Castro ss3000CJones 3b1111
Winn rf-lf3010
Utley 2b3000
Totals000000Totals000000
Mexico000000000--0
United States000100100--2
E--Jeter. DP--Mexico 1, United States 3. LOB--Mexico 2, United States, 4. 3B--Damon. HR--Lee, CJones.
IPHRERBBSO
Mexico
RLopez, L431111
Dessens220001
Villarreal2-311100
Rincon1-300001
Cortes100000
United States
Peavy310003
Timlin, W100000
Cordero100001
Wheeler100001
TJones120000
Nathan110003
Lidge, S100001
T--2:06. A--32,727.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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