Baseball looked more like America's national pastime last night.
Team USA avoided elimination from the World Baseball Classic, beating the Netherlands, 9-3, in Miami to ease the sting of a drubbing against Puerto Rico the night before.
Jimmy Rollins drove in four runs with a homer, triple and sacrifice fly, and Team USA newcomer Brian Roberts went 3-for-3 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs. Roy Oswalt pitched four scoreless innings, then six relievers completed the 12-hitter.
Roberts, the Orioles second baseman, finished a home run short of the cycle and sparked the offense only hours after joining the team as a replacement for Dustin Pedroia, sidelined by an abdominal injury.
Even with a six-run lead in the eighth, the Americans remained feisty. Matt Lindstrom gave up a leadoff homer to Bryan Engelhardt, who took a long look at his prodigious drive before jogging around the bases. When Lindstrom's next pitch sailed behind Vince Rooi, Dutch players took several steps onto the field as they yelled angrily at the pitcher.
Lindstrom left the game with a stiff pitching shoulder. He was scheduled for magnetic resonance imaging today. Left fielder Ryan Braun left in the ninth with a sore left side.
The Americans lost Chipper Jones for the rest of the tournament because of a strain in his right side.
Still one loss from elimination, the United States will play tomorrow night against the loser of tonight's game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Left-hander Ted Lilly is scheduled to pitch for the Americans. If they win, they'll advance to the semifinals next weekend in Los Angeles.
The Dutch were eliminated.
More World Baseball Classic: : Red Sox ace Daisuke Matsuzaka held previously undefeated Cuba to five singles in six innings, leading Japan to a 6-0 win in the second round in San Diego. Matsuzaka struck out eight and walked none. ... President Hugo Chavez came to the defense of Magglio Ordonez, slamming Venezuelan baseball fans who booed the major leaguer because of their friendship.
Dodgers: : Manny Ramirez aggravated his sore left hamstring while playing the outfield for the first time this spring. Ramirez, 36, said he didn't know whether the injury was severe enough that it would have kept him out of a regular-season game.
Red Sox: : Pedroia downplayed his injury with a message for fans: "Tell them to calm down. We'll handle this. We'll be all right." Pedroia said he was not sure when he would be back playing. Pedroia's double-play partner, shortstop Julio Lugo, is expected to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee tomorrow. General manager Theo Epstein said Lugo could have a tear of the meniscus cartilage. ... Left-hander Jon Lester finalized a five-year, $30 million contract, a deal that could be worth $42.75 million over six seasons if Boston exercises a club option for 2014.
Phillies: : Chase Utley went 0-for-2 in his first spring training game, and Philadelphia beat St. Louis, 2-1. Utley, who had hip surgery Nov. 24, led off and played four innings at second base. "I don't see why we won't be ready on Opening Day," Utley said.
Yankees: : Jorge Posada caught for the first time since right shoulder surgery in July in New York's 5-1 win over the Twins. Posada played four innings behind the plate but didn't ecounter a stolen-base attempt.
Et cetera: : Mariners left-hander Erik Bedard, a former Oriole, will start and pitch one inning today against the Dodgers. Bedard missed his last start and postponed two bullpen sessions because of sore buttocks. ... Relief pitcher Duaner Sanchez agreed to a minor league contract with the Padres.