Canada blows big lead, but upsets U.S.

Updated: March 8, 2006, 7:23 PM ET
ESPN.com

PHOENIX -- Don't blame Canada, because this defeat is all American.

Canada took an early lead and held on for an 8-6 victory over the United States in their World Baseball Classic game Wednesday at Chase Field.

Canada jumped all over United States pitchers Dontrelle Willis and Al Leiter in the early innings Wednesday, taking an 8-0 lead.

Canada jumped to a 1-0 lead off Willis in the first when Stubby Clapp tripled, then scored when Justin Morneau grounded out to first.

The Canadians made it 2-0 in the second when Aaron Guiel tripled to right, then scored on another triple, this one to center by Adam Stern.

Canada made it 5-0 on a three-run third. Canada's Jason Bay opened things up with a ground single to left, then moved to second on Morneau's line single to right. Matt Stairs' groundout to short moved Bay to third and Morneau to second.

After Corey Koskie popped out to short, Pete Laforest singled past Chipper Jones at third, scoring Bay and moving Morneau to third.

That was all for Willis, who reached his 65-pitch limit and was relieved by Al Leiter.

Leiter promptly walked Aaron Guiel, sending Laforest to second, then Adam Stern singled up the middle to score Morneau and Laforest. Guiel moved to third, but was stranded when Pete Orr grounded out, second to first.

With one out in the fourth, Bay singled, then went to third on a ground-rule double by Morneau. That was it for Leiter, who was relieved by Gary Majewski. Bay and Morneau then scored on a two-run ground single up the middle by Matt Stairs. That made it 7-0 Canada.

Stern led off the fifth for Canada with a liner down the left-field line that caromed wildly away from left fielder Matt Holliday, enabling Stern to lumber all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run, his first of the Classic. That made it 8-0 Canada.

In the U.S. fifth, Michael Young singled past third baseman Koskie. After Derek Jeter flied out to center, Young came home on a double by Ken Griffey Jr., who then left in favor of pinch runner Jeff Francoeur. Derrek Lee then singled to right to score Francoeur and cut Canada's lead to 8-2.

Chipper Jones singled to center, sending Lee to second. After Mark Teixeira struck out, Vernon Wells walked to load the bases. Canada then brought on Eric Cyr to pitch to Varitek, whose grand slam closed it to 8-6.

A brilliant defensive play kept Canada from padding that lead in the eighth. With two out, Canada's Ryan Radmanovich walked. Then Morneau doubled down the line in right. Francoeur came up with it, hit relay man Chase Utley, who fired to catcher Brian Schneider, tagging out Radmanovich at the plate, ending the inning.

The U.S. stranded two runners in the eighth. Wells led off with a walk off reliever Scott Mathieson. After Schnieder flied out to right, pinch hitter Johnny Damon walked, sending Wells to second. Young then flied out, and Utley sent a towering fly to center but it was caught by Stern at the base of the center-field wall, ending the threat.

Steve Green, a Detroit Tigers farmhand, came on to pitch in the ninth for Canada. Francoeur and Lee each grounded out, putting the U.S. hopes on Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod singled when he sent a looper into center that bounced out of the glove of a diving Stern. But Teixiera grounded out to first to end it.

The Canadians and Americans both won their opening games Tuesday in the WBC.