Italy 0


Venezuela 7


8:00 PM ET, March 7, 2009

123456789 R H E
ITA 000000000 0 8 1
VEN 00004012X 7 11 1
W:Hernandez (1-0)
L:Grilli (0-1)

Guillen, Mora hit solo homers as Venezuela beats Italy

Associated Press

TORONTO -- After a nervous start, Carlos Guillen got Venezuela rolling with a home run. It was just the start for a potent offense.

Guillen and Melvin Mora hit solo homers, Bobby Abreu singled in two runs in a four-run fifth inning and Venezuela defeated Italy 7-0 at the World Baseball Classic on Saturday night.

"I think the anxiety sort of made us freeze for the first few innings," Venezuelan manager Luis Sojo said. "But after Carlos Guillen's home run, the guys started to make the necessary adjustments."

Mora went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Jose Lopez went 3-for-3 with a walk and scored twice for Venezuela.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez allowed just one single in four scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory. He walked two and struck out four.

"When he came in, he shut us down," Italian outfielder Frank Catalanotto said. "He was throwing some really good splits."

Pitching in relief was a change for Hernandez, who has worked only as a starter in all 104 games of his major league career.

"It was a little bit difficult because it's the first time I've come out of a bullpen in the middle of a game," he said. "But I'm professional, I know how to make the adjustments, and I'm pro. I tried to make the best of it. I tried to throw three strikes. That's what you have to do as a pitcher."

Venezuela can advance to the second round with a victory over the United States on Sunday night. Italy will seek to avoid elimination from Group C when it meets host Canada on Monday night.

Right-hander Roy Oswalt will start for the U.S. Sunday against Venezuelan right-hander Armando Galarraga.

"We're calm," Sojo said. "We're not very nervous, but we're going to try to do the best that's possible to try to get a really important win that could take us straight to (the second round in ) Miami."

Starter Mark DeFelice pitched four scoreless innings for Italy before Venezuela broke through in the fifth against Colorado right-hander Jason Grilli.

Guillen led off with a homer to left and Lopez followed with a double. After Ramon Hernandez flied out and Cesar Izturis walked, Italian manager Marco Mazzieri brought in left-hander Lenny DiNardo, but the move backfired when Endy Chavez reached on a bunt single, Mora drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk and Abreu singled through the right side, scoring two more.

"At that time we liked out chances with Jason going in," Mazzieri said. "It just didn't work out."

Chicago Cubs right-hander Alessandro Maestri came on to end the rally, getting Miguel Cabrera on a fielder's choice and striking out Magglio Ordonez looking for the final out.

Mora led off the seventh with a drive into the second deck in left against Cody Cillo. Venezuela capped the scoring in the eighth when Lopez and Hernandez hit back-to-back doubles and, two outs later, Mora singled home Hernandez.

Italy wasted scoring chances in the early innings against Venezuelan starter Carlos Silva. Michael Costanzo was caught in a rundown after a leadoff double in the second, and Minnesota second baseman Nick Punto grounded back to the mound for the final out, stranding runners at second and third.

Italy stranded seven runners over the first five innings and finished 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

"That was really the story of the game," Catalanotto said. "We left runners on base. When you've got a team like that and you've got them kind of on the ropes, you've got to bury them and you've got to knock them down. We weren't able to do that."

Silva worked four shutout innings, allowing six hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Baserunning errors also cost Venezuela early on. Lopez was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in the second, and Abreu was thrown out at third base when he ran too far past the bag after advancing on a fly ball in the fourth.

Italy's right fielder Mario Chiarini made the defensive play of the night, a full-stretch diving catch on Abreu's one-out liner in the first. Chiarini broke his belt on the play and had to run into the first-base dugout for a replacement.

Game notes
Toronto Raptors center Andrea Bargnani threw out the first pitch. ... Abreu was hit on the right thigh in the seventh. He stayed in to run the bases but was replaced by Gerardo Parra in the outfield to begin the eighth. ... Venezuela beat Italy 6-0 in the opening round of the 2006 World Baseball Classic.


Game Information

Game Time: 3:00
Weather: indoors
Umpires: Home Plate - Jerry Meals, First Base - Masami Yoshikawa, Second Base - Dan Iassogna, Third Base - Carlos Rey