Final

Korea 1

(3-1)

Japan 0

(2-1)

5:30 AM ET, March 9, 2009

123456789 R H E
KOR 000100000 1 4 0
JPN 000000000 0 6 0
W:J. Bong (1-0)
L:H. Iwakuma (0-1)
SV:C. Lim (1)

Kim drives in only run as Korea shuts out Japan

Associated Press

TOKYO -- Olympic champion South Korea has a knack for beating Japan in major international tournaments.

Kim Tae-kyun drove in the only run to help South Korea top Japan 1-0 on Monday and finish first in Group A of the World Baseball Classic.

Both teams had already advanced to the second round, and this game was to determine seedings. Defending champion Japan will face the Group B winner in the second round while South Korea takes on the Group B runner-up in its first game March 15 at San Diego.

Japan beat South Korea 14-2 on Saturday but couldn't come up with timely hits after Kim gave his team a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI single down the third base line, scoring Lee Jong-wook from second.

"Japan beat us in the first game so it was nice to come back and get the win in this game," Kim said. "Japan's pitchers have a tendency to pitch inside. I just kept that in mind and was pleased to get a big hit."

South Korea improved to 3-1 in the tournament while Japan dropped to 2-1.

The game was the latest edition of an intense rivalry between two baseball-loving nations. Japan's rout of South Korea on Saturday was called after seven innings under the tournament's mercy rule.

South Korea beat Japan twice in the Beijing Olympics on the way to winning the gold medal. The South Koreans also beat Japan twice in the 2006 WBC before Japan won their semifinal matchup.

Japan defeated Cuba 10-6 in the final to win the inaugural WBC.

South Korea starter Bong Jung-keun held Japan to three hits over 5 1-3 scoreless innings to earn the win. Japan starter Hisashi Iwakuma, a 21-game winner last season for the Rakuten Eagles, gave up one run on two hits over 5 1-3 innings and took the loss.

Japan had a chance to tie the game in the eighth. Ichiro Suzuki got his first hit of the game with a one-out single off South Korea reliever Ryu Hyun-jin.

Suzuki advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hiroyuki Nakajima, but Norichika Aoki grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.

Nakajima has been one of Japan's best hitters in the opening round of the WBC and many will question Japan manager Tatsunori Hara's decision to have him bunt in that situation.

South Korea squandered a chance to widen the lead in the seventh. Kim Hyun-soo led off with a walk and advanced to third on a double by Kim Tae-kyun. Lee Dae-ho then hit into a double play before Lee Yong-kyu lined out to center field.

Puerto Rico 3, Netherlands 1

At San Juan, Puerto Rico, Yadier Molina's go-ahead double keyed a three-run rally in the eighth inning, and Puerto Rico beat a pesky Netherlands team to advance to the second round.

The Netherlands pulled off a major upset in its tournament opener Saturday, beating the Dominican Republic 3-2. The pitching staff, with coach Bert Blyleven in the dugout, also was impressive against favored Puerto Rico, protecting a 1-0 lead until the eighth.

Big league sluggers Carlos Delgado and Alex Rios opened the inning with walks. After Ivan Rodriguez struck out, Mike Aviles walked to load the bases and Molina followed with a two-run double to left off Leon Boyd that put Puerto Rico in front before a sold-out home crowd of 19,479 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Jesus Feliciano's two-out RBI single made it 3-1.

J.C. Romero and Fernando Cabrera combined for a perfect ninth, sending Puerto Rico to Miami for second-round action beginning Saturday.

The Netherlands will face the Dominican Republic again in an elimination game Tuesday night. The winner of that game will play Puerto Rico on Wednesday for first place in Group D.

Italy 6, Canada 2

At Toronto, some hitting tips from batting coach Mike Piazza helped Chris Denorfia and Italy to a big win.

Denorfia went 4-for-4 with three doubles, Alex Liddi drove in two runs and Italy eliminated Canada from the WBC by beating the Group C hosts.

Denorfia, a member of the Oakland Athletics, reached base five times and scored twice. He also knocked in two runs and made a diving catch on Joey Votto's sinking liner to center field in the seventh. His four hits and three doubles matched WBC records for a game.

Justin Morneau had four hits but it wasn't enough as Canada was stifled before a sparse crowd of 12,411, the smallest so far in four Group C games.

It was a quick and disappointing tournament exit for the Canadians, who featured a lineup that included major league stars Jason Bay, Russell Martin and Morneau. Canada looked tough in its first game, a 6-5 loss to a powerful United States squad in front of a lively home crowd at Rogers Centre.

Italy will play Venezuela on Tuesday in an elimination game. Venezuela beat the Italians 7-0 in their opener Saturday night.


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Game Information

Game Time: 3:02
Weather: indoors
Umpires: Home Plate - Dana Demuth, First Base - Paul Hyham, Second Base - Ed Hickox, Third Base - Jorge Perez