- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

MIAMI (AP) - Jake Peavy lasted only two innings, and in the wake of a Classic blowout, Team USA could soon be gone, too.

Thanks to an embarrassing 11-1 loss to Puerto Rico on Saturday night that was stopped early because of the mercy rule, the Americans are once again on the ropes in round two of the World Baseball Classic.

Carlos Beltran and Felipe Lopez homered, and Puerto Rico rocked Peavy for six runs to send the U.S. team into the loser’s bracket. The Americans face the Netherlands in an elimination game Sunday night.

Javier Vazquez (2-0) allowed one run in five innings for Puerto Rico, which remained unbeaten through four games. Ivan Rodriguez, playing in Miami for the first time since he helped the Marlins win the 2003 World Series, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI to hike his WBC batting average to .600 (9-for-15).

Adding embarrassment to an ugly U.S. performance, the game ended in the seventh inning because of the tournament’s 10-run rule.

The Americans were eager to make amends for a humiliating eighth-place finish in the inaugural WBC three years ago, and they came into the tournament considered a strong contender for the title. But now they’re in danger of repeating their second-round exit in 2006.

Puerto Rico advances to a winner’s bracket game Monday against Venezuela, which beat the Dutch 3-1 in the first game Saturday.

Manager Davey Johnson unexpectedly rejoined Team USA and watched with a grimace as the Americans quickly fell behind. He had been scheduled to miss the game for the wedding of his stepson in St. Petersburg, with bench coach Barry Larkin filling in as interim manager.

The crowd of 30,595 was evenly divided in its support, but Puerto Rico fans had a lot more to cheer about. Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and Kevin Youklis went a combined 0-for-9 batting 2-3-4 for Team USA, and Mark DeRosa went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts while stranding five runners.

DeRosa was a late fill-in for reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, placed on the disabled list for the second round Saturday because of a strained muscle on his left side.

With the score 7-1, Beltran homered off Matt Thornton to start the seventh. Lopez doubled home a run and Mike Aviles hit a two-out, two-run single to end the game. Puerto Rico poured out of the dugout as fans armed with thundersticks and flags let out one final roar.

From the outset, Peavy turned the game into international batting practice. He gave up singles to three of the first four hitters he faced, and Puerto Rico scored twice in the first. Carlos Delgado singled home the first run, and Alex Rios followed with a sacrifice fly.

Things got worse in the second for Peavy (0-1). He gave up a leadoff walk and then Lopez’s homer. Following another walk, Ramon Vazquez doubled, Beltran drove in a run with an infield single and Delgado delivered an RBI groundout.

While Peavy gave up six hits and two walks, Vazquez allowed only one baserunner until David Wright led off the fifth with a single. Adam Dunn also singled, and after a forceout, Brian McCann doubled home a run to make it 6-1.

Vazquez escaped further damage by retiring DeRosa and Shane Victorino.

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