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Korea downs rival Japan, sweet revenge for US

SOUTH Korea beat bitter Asian rival Japan 4-1 to advance to the World Baseball Classic semifinals on Tuesday, while the United States also moved on by beating Puerto Rico in dramatic fashion.

The Americans scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to turn the tables on Puerto Rico with a 6-5 win, capped by David Wright's single that plated two, including the winning run in a game played in Miami.

Puerto Rico thrashed the United States 11-1 earlier in the second round and the jubilant Americans celebrated the revenge win by mobbing Wright along the first base line.

Olympic champion South Korea scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, taking advantage of a shaky start by hard-throwing Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish and some sloppy fielding behind him.

It managed just one hit the rest of the way but sharp fielding and solid pitching kept defending WBC champion Japan at bay. South Korea's final run came in the eighth inning on a bases-loaded walk.

"When we play Japan, the Korean players feel like we must win the game," outfielder Lee Jin-young said. "We think that this is our rival and we have to win."

Outfielder Lee Yong-kyu led off the first for South Korea with a single, stole second and scored the first run thanks in part to bobbled balls from Japanese infielders Akinori Iwamura and Yasuyuki Kataoka.

Lee Jin-young's single to left with the bases loaded drove in two runs in the game played before 15,000 boisterous fans at Petco Park but watched by millions on television in the two Asian economic powers.

Darvish, who took the loss, found his stride in the second inning, striking out the side and showing the dominating arsenal of pitches that he hopes will eventually land him with a Major League team. He finished the game with seven strike outs.

South Korean starter Bong Jung-keun got the win after pitching into the fifth inning, giving up a run on three hits, three walks and hitting a batter. Japan got its only run in the top of the fifth after Major League players Kosuke Fukudome and Kenji Johjima led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Ichiro Suzuki plated Fukudome on a fielder's choice grounder.


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