Final

Italy 1

(1-2)

Venezuela 10

(2-1)

5:00 PM ET, March 10, 2009

123456789 R H E
ITA 000000100 1 6 1
VEN 00045010X 10 14 0
W:E. Gonzalez (1-0)
L:T. Da Silva (0-1)

Venezuela rips Italy, U.S. coming up next

Associated Press

TORONTO -- A winter of extra workouts has Venezuela's potent offense running at full speed.

Bobby Abreu and Miguel Cabrera hit consecutive long balls to start a four-homer outburst in the fifth inning, powering Venezuela to a 10-1 victory over Italy on Tuesday and a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

Jose Lopez added a two-run shot, Ramon Hernandez followed with a mammoth drive and Venezuela eliminated Italy from the 16-team tournament with its second win over the Italians in four days.

"In the second round it's going to be dangerous for the pitchers," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said.

Venezuela will play the United States on Wednesday night to decide the winner of Group C. The U.S. won their previous matchup 15-6 on Sunday night. Both teams begin second-round play Saturday in Miami.

"A very important game for us because we need to show the United States this team is here to win as well," Sojo said.

Italy beat host Canada 6-2 on Monday night but couldn't follow that up in front of a pro-Venezuelan crowd of 10,450.

Cabrera, who came in 0-for-9 in the WBC, went 3-for-4 with a walk and scored twice.

Cabrera wasn't available to reporters after the game, but Abreu said an improved approach helped the Detroit slugger end his hitless skid.

"The first two games he was swinging the bat a little too aggressive," Abreu said. "Today he was more patient at the plate, he drove the ball up the middle and the other way. He got pretty good contact. That's what we need."

Sojo was happy to see Cabrera break out.

"That's one of the guys we need to have ready for the second round and he came through today," Sojo said.

Endy Chavez went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Hernandez finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs as Venezuela pounded out 14 hits.

"The last Classic we had a lot of problems," Abreu said. "We didn't really hit, you know? In this one we're doing pretty well. We've scored a lot of runs every game. In these short competitions you need to score runs, you need to help your pitchers."

Venezuela was eliminated from the 2006 WBC after scoring just nine runs in three second-round games. Intent on making sure the team was better prepared this time, Sojo started calling his players in December to discuss workouts. He didn't need to track down Hernandez.

"I was working out in October," the Cincinnati catcher said. "A lot of guys' mentality, No. 1, was trying to prepare ourselves as quick as we can, especially on the offensive side. If we're not going to hit, we're going to be in trouble.

"It's not just me, it's every guy on the team," Hernandez added. "Every spring training game that we played, everybody was trying to take good swings in every at-bat. We were trying to get a very, very good at-bat every time we go up, just trying to get ourselves [ready] for this competition more than we did before."

Boston right-hander Enrique Gonzalez worked four shutout innings for the win, allowing two hits. He walked none and struck out three.

Ramon Ramirez allowed one run in three innings, Francisco Rodriguez struck out two in the eighth and Victor Moreno wrapped it up in the ninth for Venezuela.

Italy starter Adam Ottavino kept it scoreless through three before Venezuela broke loose for a four-run fourth against loser Tiago da Silva.

Cabrera hit a one-out double, advanced on Magglio Ordonez's single and scored when Carlos Guillen doubled to right. Lopez was walked intentionally to load the bases and Hernandez hit a sharp grounder under the glove of shortstop Nick Punto, who was charged with a two-run error. Cesar Izturis was hit by a pitch before Chavez chased da Silva with a sacrifice fly.

Venezuela pulled away with four homers in a five-run fifth. Abreu and Cabrera opened the inning with back-to-back drives off Kasey Olenberger, who left after Ordonez doubled. One out later, Lopez and Hernandez went back-to-back against right-hander B.J. LaMura.

"That was awesome," Chavez said. "I was jumping and screaming in the dugout. It was unbelievable. I was watching each hit to see where it was going to fall."

Game notes
Venezuela used a four-run fifth to beat Italy 7-0 on Saturday in the WBC opener for both teams. ... RHP Victor Zambrano will start for Venezuela on Wednesday against U.S. lefty Ted Lilly. ... Venezuelan fans called individual players out of the dugout for curtain calls during the top of the ninth.


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Game Information

Game Time: 3:04
Weather: indoors
Umpires: Home Plate - Jerry Meals, First Base - Masami Yoshikawa, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Carlos Rey