Final

Korea 10

Venezuela 2

9:00 PM ET, March 21, 2009

123456789 R H E
KOR 520102000 10 10 1
VEN 001000100 2 9 5
W:S. Yoon (2-0)
L:C. Silva (1-1)

South Korea reaches World Baseball Classic final

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Who says big leaguers are baseball's best players?

South Korea has only one player in the majors compared to Venezuela's 22, but the reigning Olympic champions will be playing in the World Baseball Classic finals after sending the Venezuelans home.

Cleveland Indians outfielder Choo Shin-Soo hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run first, Yoon Suk-Min allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings, and South Korea beat mistake-prone Venezuela 10-2 Saturday night at Dodger Stadium before an enthusiastic crowd of 43,378 that included Commissioner Bud Selig.

"As a major leaguer myself, in terms of the actual players in the major leagues and the other players, there is not a great deal of difference," Choo said through a translator. "All the Korean players are excellent. I believe there is no major difference between the major leagues and our Korean players.

"Our Korean players, I hope, will be able to advance to the major leagues in great number, and I hope they will do so in the future."

Fast Facts

• South Korea scored seven runs in the first two innings and cruised to the win, advancing to the WBC final for the first time.

• Hyun Soo Kim and Tae Kyun Kim combined to go 5-for-7 with three RBI to lead the Korean offense. Tae Kyun Kim now has 11 RBI at this year's WBC, surpassing the single-tournament record of 10 RBI set by Ken Griffey Jr (USA) and Seung Yeop Lee (KOR) in 2006.

• Venezuela committed five errors in the game, setting the single-game WBC record for most errors by a team.

• South Korea, which finished third at the 2006 WBC and first at the 2008 Olympics, will play the winner of the USA-Japan game (Sun. 8 ET, ESPN) in the final on Monday night (9 ET, ESPN).

-- ESPN research

Kim Tae-Kyun added a two-run homer off loser Carlos Silva in the second for South Korea, which meets the winner of Sunday night's semifinal matchup between defending WBC champion Japan and the United States for the title on Monday night. Roy Oswalt is scheduled to pitch for the Americans against Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Oswalt, a member of the Olympic gold medal-winning team in the 2000 Olympics, is 1-0 in two WBC starts, allowing 11 hits and three runs in 7 2/3 innings.

Matsuzaka, who pitched six shutout innings against Cuba last Sunday, is 2-0, having allowed nine hits and two runs in 10 innings. He was 3-0 and selected tournament MVP in leading Japan to the inaugural WBC championship in 2006. The 28-year-old right-hander joined the Boston Red Sox two years ago.

The Japan-U.S. contest is a rematch of the bronze-medal game at last summer's Beijing Olympics, which the Americans won 8-4. Japan hasn't defeated the United States since the 2005 World Cup in the Netherlands. The Americans were eliminated 2-1 by Mexico in the second round of the first Classic after beating Japan 4-3 during pool play in Anaheim.

Yoon (2-0), a 22-year-old right-hander who went 14-5 with a 2.33 ERA for South Korea's KIA Tigers last year, scattered seven hits while walking one and striking out four. He allowed 13 hits and two runs in 16 innings with one walk and 13 strikeouts in four WBC outings.

"Rather than being nervous, I had confidence, even though they are major league hitters," Yoon said. "And I did not know who they were, so I was confident against those hitters. So I don't know anything else."

Led by Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Bobby Abreu, Jose Lopez, Carlos Guillen, Melvin Mora and Ramon Hernandez, the Venezuelans had 12 homers and 36 extra-base hits in their first seven games and outscored the opposition 30-11 while winning their previous five, including two over Team USA.

That meant nothing against Yoon and the South Koreans, who put Venezuela away in the opening inning.

"We need to give a lot of credit to Korea's pitching because they were amazing, absolutely," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said. "They got a five-run lead and basically, that was the game.

"This was very painful. We did our job to obtain this objective. However, Korea did a better job than we did," Sojo said. "Unfortunately, it was not a good day for us, and that is the reality of baseball, and that is why we are out."

Sojo said he believes there will soon be more Koreans in the major leagues.

"To see the way this kid [Yoon] threw the ball opened a lot of eyes," Sojo said. "The bullpen was outstanding. I don't know -- surprises me there aren't that many Koreans in the big leagues, but I think from now on, there will be."

Silva (1-1) entered the semifinals having allowed just one run on 10 hits with one walk and six strikeouts in 11 innings over two WBC outings. But he didn't last long against the South Koreans, being chased after giving up six hits and seven runs, six earned, in 1 1/3 innings.

Lee Yongkyu walked to begin the game and Jeong Keunwoo reached base when right fielder Abreu dropped his fly fall for an error -- one of five committed by Venezuela after it made five in seven previous games, six of them wins.

Kim Hyun-Soo followed with an RBI single and Kim Tae-Kyun singled to load the bases. After Lee Dae-Ho drove in a run with an RBI groundout, Choo hit an 0-1 pitch over the center field fence for a three-run homer -- just his second hit in 11 WBC at-bats. Choo hit .309 with 14 homers and 66 RBIs in 94 games with the Indians last season.

"I closed my glove too early," Abreu said regarding his error. "I think that play early in the first inning, it caused the rally. That error meant a lot for Carlos because he was looking forward to getting the first out and keeping us in the game."

Kim Hyun-Soo hit a one-out double in the second and Kim Tae-Kyum followed with his third homer of the Classic, making it 7-0 and chasing Silva, who went 5-14 with a 6.46 ERA for the Seattle Mariners last year.

Venezuela got a run in the third on one-out singles by Marco Scutaro, Endy Chavez and Mora before Yoon retired Abreu on a grounder and Cabrera on a liner to left to end the inning.

South Korea made it 8-1 with an unearned run off Enrique Gonzalez in the fourth when first baseman Cabrera was unable to handle a pickoff throw from catcher Hernandez for an error, allowing Ko Young Min to score from second. Gonzalez allowed one hit and the unearned run in 3 2-3 innings.

South Korea extended its lead to 10-1 off Victor Zambrano in the sixth on an RBI single by Lee Dae-Ho and a sacrifice fly by Choi Jeong. Kim Hyun-Soo went 3-for-3 with a walk before coming out for a pinch runner in the inning.

Guillen opened the seventh by hitting an 0-2 pitch from Yoon into the right-center field pavilion for his third WBC homer to complete the scoring. Guillen, Abreu and Hernandez had two hits each for Venezuela, who had a total of nine off five pitchers. South Korea had 10 hits off six pitchers.


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Game Information

Game Time: 3:22
Weather: 62 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind: 5 mph
Umpires: Home Plate - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Willie Rodriguez, Second Base - Paul Emmel, Third Base - Paul Hyham