Wright's slam leads US past Italy

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 10, 2013
David Wright hit a two-out grand slam in the fifth inning and the United States beat Italy 6-2 Saturday night in the World Baseball Classic. The U.S. (1-1) meets Canada (1-1) in the final game of Pool D play on Sunday with the winner advancing to the second round. Ryan Vogelsong settled down after a shaky start to get the victory. The San Francisco right-hander went four-plus innings, allowing two runs and six hits, striking out four. The U.S., bouncing back from Friday night's 5-2 loss to Mexico, fell behind 2-0 after two innings but shut the Italian squad down on two hits the rest of the way. Italy (2-1) clinched a second-round berth for the first time in its WBC history when Mexico lost to Canada earlier Saturday. Washington's Ross Detwiler blanked Italy on one hit over the final four innings to get the save. Vogelsong left after giving up a leadoff single in the fifth, then his Giants teammate Jeremy Affeldt retired three straight to end the inning. Detwiler did the rest. Wright, Jimmy Rollins, Brandon Phillips and Ryan Braun had two hits apiece for the United States. Down 2-1 after four innings, the U.S. finally got the big hit it had been lacking in WBC play. Adam Jones led off the fifth with a walk, then Jonathan Lucroy singled and Phillips singled Jones home to tie it at 2-2. Ryan Braun narrowly missed a home run on a foul ball to deep left but struck out, then Joe Mauer walked to load the bases. That brought up Wright, and the New York Mets slugger hit Matt Torra's 1-2 pitch over the left field wall several rows into the seats and the United States had its first lead of the tournament, 6-2. The Americans squandered an early opportunity when Rollins singled and Phillips reached safely on a bunt for a base hit in the first. But Braun hit into a double play and Mauer flew out. Italy, off to a surprising 2-0 start in the WBC, scored in its half of the first when Nick Punto singled, advanced to third on Anthony Rizzo's single and scored on Vogelsong's wild pitch. After two outs in the second, Tyler Latorre singled and scored when Anthony Granato, the No. 9 hitter in the order, doubled over the head of center fielder Adam Jones to make it 2-0. The U.S. cut it to 2-1 in the fourth when Joe Mauer doubled home Braun. Meanwhile, Vogelsong was rolling, striking out the final batter in the third and all three in the fourth. Wright's slam was the second for the United States in its WBC history. The first was by Jason Varitek against Canada on March 8, 2005. The second baseman Phillips made a spectacular play to rob Mario Charini to end the sixth inning. The Cincinnati Reds star made a diving stop to his right, then threw from a sitting position to first, throwing his hands in the air in triumph when the ball got to the bag ahead of the runner. Italy used nine pitchers. The second, Marco Brifantini, took the loss, going one inning plus two batters, allowing three runs and three hits.
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