Team USA did not have a grand time in its 2009 World Cup debut, but Venezuela sure did. A grand slam by Dirimo Chavez off Marlins prospect Nate Field pushed Venezuela to a 13-9 victory over the U.S. in 11 innings in Pool E play at Regensburg, Germany. Team USA, the defending champion, now must defeat both Germany and China, likely victories in both cases, to advance to the second round. Venezuela's winning homer was aided in part by the International Baseball Federation's extra-innings rule in which runners are placed on first and second to begin each inning beyond the regulation nine. But the U.S. also benefited from the rule, scoring twice to tie the game at 9 before Chavez's grand slam in the 11th.
The Venezuelans came back from a 7-2 deficit for the victory, one of several comebacks on Day 2 of the international tourney, including one that fell short but would have led to arguably the biggest upset in international baseball history. Superpower Japan held off a Great Britain charge for a 9-7 victory despite a five-run rally in the ninth. In other games, Mexico beat Chinese Taipei, 8-0; Cuba beat Puerto Rico, 10-0; Canada beat Korea, 9-1; and Nicaragua beat Croatia, 10-1. The tournament continues Friday with Team USA meeting Germany, among 10 games on the slate. The U.S. used its power to get on top Thursday, with Rangers slugging prospect Justin Smoak delivering two home runs and the Royals' Tag Hulett another. But Venezuela rallied in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings on former Rockies outfielder Rene Reyes' grand slam off pitcher Jason Childers of the Rays organization. Among the other Minor League prospects who made some noise Friday was Adam Loewen, the former pitcher with the Orioles now reinventing himself as an outfielder with the Jays. Loewen had a pair of doubles, including the capper to an eight-run seventh inning that broke open a close game, driving home Rangers prospect Tim Smith. Brewers prospect Nick Bucci pitched five shutout innings on just three hits to get things started for Canada.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.