Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Korea wins; US stays alive

Berth in semis on line tonight

Team USA still has a chance in the World Baseball Classic thanks to Korea.

Chan Ho Park and four relievers combined to pitch a six-hitter, Jong Beom Lee hit a two-run double in the eighth, and Korea beat Japan, 2-1, last night in Anaheim, Calif., to clinch a berth in the semifinals of the inaugural WBC.

The Americans, who would have been eliminated with a low-scoring win by Japan, can wrap up the other semifinal berth in Group 1 with Roger Clemens on the mound by beating Mexico tonight.

''I'll tell you what, I don't know that I've ever been as nervous watching a baseball game as I was in this one," Team USA manager Buck Martinez said minutes after Korea's win. ''What a great game that was.

''It's a big relief, obviously. We were all very anxious for this game tonight. Japan is a very good baseball team."

''We're in," said US general manager Bob Watson after learning of Korea's 2-1 win over Japan. ''That's great. We can control our own destiny now."

Korea went 3-0 in Round 2. The United States is 1-1, Japan finished 1-2, and Mexico is 0-2. The Americans beat Mexico, 2-0, in the first round last week.

Korea and Japan were scoreless when Min Jae Kim drew a one-out walk in the eighth off Toshiya Sugiuchi, and Byung Kyu Lee followed with a single. Center fielder Tatsuhiko Kinjoh's throw to third arrived ahead of Kim, but Toshiaki Imae juggled the ball, and Lee took second on the play. Imae wasn't charged with an error.

Kyuji Fugikawa relieved, and Jong Beom Lee lined a 2-1 pitch to the left-center field gap. Lee raised his fists in triumph as the ball dropped in, but he was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka homered off Dae Sung Koo to begin the bottom of the ninth for Japan's only run. Noguhiko Matsunaka hit a one-out single before Seung Kwan Oh struck out the next two batters to end the game.

The game was played before an announced crowd of 39,679 at Angel Stadium, with most of the fans pulling for Korea. They chanted and banged their blue and white Thunderstix and booed enthusiastically every time Ichiro Suzuki came to the plate.

The semifinals will be played Saturday and the final Monday at Petco Park in San Diego. The Dominican Republic and Cuba are the semifinalists from Group 2.

Cuba 4, Puerto Rico 3 -- Cuba had two close calls go against it late in the game and still held on for a 4-3 victory over Puerto Rico at San Juan to advance to the semifinals.

Ormari Romero allowed one run in four innings for Cuba (2-1), which will play the Dominican Republic in a semifinal game Saturday in San Diego.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives