SAN DIEGO – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer homered in the eighth inning and the United States overcame a two-run deficit for a 4-2 victory over Venezuela in the second round of the World Baseball Classic at Petco Park. Jones, a native of San Diego, homered off Hector Rondon (0-1) to lead off the eighth inning and tie the game at 2. After Christian Yelich singled and Nolan Arenado flied out, Hosmer hit a 418-foot homer to right-center field for a 4-2 lead.
Pat Neshek (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Luke Gregerson pitched the ninth for the save.
The United States and Puerto Rico won their first games in Pool F, and the top two teams will advance to the semifinals in Los Angeles next week. Japan and the Netherlands already have qualified.
Rougned Odor homered and Felix Hernandez pitched five scoreless innings for Venezuela. Hernandez gave up three singles, struck out three and walked none. He also threw 61 pitches.
United States left-hander Drew Smyly gave up three hits and a run while striking out eight in 4 2/3 innings. He was removed after throwing 61 pitches. The pitch limit in this round is 80.
Venezuela took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Carlos Gonzalez singled and took third when Smyly fielded Robinson Chirinos’ bunt single and threw it past first base, putting runners on second and third. Ender Inciarte followed with a sacrifice fly. Odor made it 2-0 in the seventh with a solo homer.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hosmer singled, took second on Odor’s second error of the game and came around to score on fly balls by Andrew McCutchen and Jonathan Lucroy.
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The United States played long ball through the notorious marine layer at Petco Park, with home runs by Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer in the eighth inning. Jones’s shot went to deep left-center, and Hosmer’s drive went to right-center. Drew Smyly was dynamic in 4 2/3 innings, giving up only an unearned run while striking out eight.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Venezuela had its best chance in the third inning after Ender Inciarte’s sacrifice fly drove in the first run of the game. With a runner on second base, Jose Altuve flied to right field and Martin Prado struck out against Smyly. Miguel Cabrera walked with one out in the ninth inning but Victor Martinez hit into a shift-induced double play to end the game.
TIP OF THE CAP: Felix Hernandez looked like the Cy Young King Felix, striking out three without a walk in five scoreless innings. He gave up three singles. Left-hander Jose Castillo, who pitched at Class A Lake Elsinore last sesaon, stuck out Christian Yelich and Nolan Arenado with runners on first and second to get out of the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead.
UP NEXT: Team USA will finish Pool F play against Puerto Rico on Friday and the Dominican Republic on Saturday night. Venezuela will be finishing against Puerto Rico on Saturday. If a tiebreaker is needed, it would be played Sunday