- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MIAMI (AP) - United States manager Davey Johnson was right to have reservations about playing Adam Dunn at first base.

The desperation defensive deployment backfired Wednesday night in the World Baseball Classic when Dunn made a wild throw that led to four unearned runs and Venezuela won Group 2 by beating the Americans 10-6 to conclude second-round play in Miami.

Both teams had already qualified for the semifinals this weekend in Los Angeles.

Venezuela will play the second-seeded team from Group 1 on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, and the Americans will play in the other semifinal Sunday. The semifinalists from Group 1 in San Diego will be South Korea and the winner of Wednesday night’s game between Cuba and Japan.

Team USA qualified for the semifinals for the first time by scoring three runs in the ninth inning Tuesday night to beat Puerto Rico 6-5. The Americans failed to come up with much of an encore, falling behind when Venezuela scored six runs in the second inning with the help of Dunn’s error.

Johnson would prefer to play Dunn in the outfield, but with Kevin Youkilis sidelined for the rest of the WBC because of a sprained ankle, there was no better option at first base.

With runners at the corners in the second inning, Dunn charged a chopper and made a throw home that sailed 10 feet wide of the catcher. Before the inning ended, Henry Blanco hit a two-run double off Jeremy Guthrie (0-2), and Jose Lopez and Miguel Cabrera each doubled home a run.

Dunn made another error in the eighth.

Venezuela finished with 15 hits, including a three-run homer by Max Ramirez. Team USA had 12 hits but stranded 11 runners.

The weather was as bad as the pitching. Rain delayed the start for more than an hour and fell during much of the game.

The conditions did little to quiet the crowd of 16,575, with Venezuela fans again chanting, pounding drums and booing Magglio Ordonez. Many Venezuelans dislike their left fielder because he supports the country’s president, Hugo Chavez.

Ordonez turned the jeers to cheers when he singled during the second-inning rally. He finished 1-for-4, hiking his average in the tournament to .167 (4-for-24).

Guthrie lasted only 1 2-3 innings and gave up seven hits, including three doubles. He left trailing 6-1, but only two of the runs were earned.

Venezuela starter Armando Galarraga (1-0) allowed eight hits and three runs, two earned, in 3 1-3 innings.

Notes:@ RHP Jake Peavy will start the first game in Los Angeles for Team USA. RHP Carlos Silva will start Venezuela’s first game. … Team USA’s Brian Roberts went 2-for-4 and is 6-for-11 in the tournament.

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