Peavy combines to four-hit Mexico in U.S. win

Updated: March 8, 2006, 12:45 AM ET
Associated Press

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PHOENIX -- One after another, the American pitchers were untouchable. A pair of big blows provided all the help they needed.

Jake Peavy
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastPeavy allowed one hit and struck out three, throwing just 23 pitches.

Jake Peavy and a parade of relievers combined on a four-hitter against a lineup loaded with major-leaguers Tuesday, leading the United States to a 2-0 victory over Mexico in its World Baseball Classic debut.

Home runs by Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones were all that was necessary on offense.

"Today I felt proud," Lee said. "I felt like the whole country was watching."

Lee hit a 1-1 pitch from starter Rodrigo Lopez over the right-field fence and Jones homered on the first pitch he saw in the tournament -- off Oscar Villarreal in the seventh.

These U.S. stars have been talking pride and patriotism since gathering on Friday.

"I've never had a better feeling in my life," Peavy said. "It was the coolest thing I have ever done when Team USA took the field today."

Added Jones: "I probably had more butterflies today than any playoff games."

Peavy allowed one hit -- an infield single by Karim Garcia that easily could have been ruled an error on second baseman Chase Utley to start the game. The 24-year-old San Diego Padres right-hander struck out three, throwing just 23 pitches. Mike Timlin, Chad Cordero, Dan Wheeler, Todd Jones, Joe Nathan and Brad Lidge each threw an inning of relief for the U.S. squad, which has 11 relievers on its roster.

"Our bullpen is ridiculous," Lee said. "I kind of felt sorry for those guys having to face them."

The U.S. pitchers combined for nine strikeouts and no walks, shutting out Mexico in only 2 hours, 6 minutes.

No Mexican hitters got beyond first. Three baserunners were erased on double plays.

"It was a good game," Mexico manager Paquin Estrada said through a translator, "but there really was no room for mistakes. There were two hits, and it was just a matter of pitching."

From the first pitch, it was apparent this was no spring training game.

The crowd of 32,727 at Chase Field -- formerly known as Bank One Ballpark -- was loud and lively with Mexican supporters waiving their red, white and green national flags and chanting "Me-xi-co! Me-xi-co!" When a U.S. batter got two strikes, there were shouts of "ponche" -- strikeout.

"I thought it was awesome," Jones said. "I thought it was electric. The Mexican fans brought a lot of electricity to the game."

The United States had the first scoring threat when Randy Winn led off the third with a single to right. After two outs, Derek Jeter bounced a single up the middle to put runners at first and third. But Ken Griffey Jr. popped up to left to end the inning.

Lopez, a right-handed starter for the Baltimore Orioles, allowed one run and three hits in four innings, striking out one and walking one. The lone run he gave up was Lee's two-out homer in the fourth.

"I was trying to throw a good fastball down and away," Lopez said. "I just left it up a little bit. Like I say, this guy's got tremendous power. This guy is an All-Star."

The lead remained 1-0 until Jones replaced Alex Rodriguez at third in the top of the seventh. With one out, he hit the first pitch from his new Atlanta teammate Villarreal some 396 feet to the seats in left-center.

"Just another huge thrill, another career highlight," said Jones, who homered in the U.S. exhibition victory against San Francisco on Saturday.

Pitchers can throw no more than 65 pitches per game in the first round because they are still in the spring training mode.

Mexico has defeated the United States only once in five tries since baseball became an Olympic sport. That 2-1 victory in the 2003 Olympic qualifier in Panama denied the Americans a 2004 Olympic berth.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press