U.S. opens with loss to Mexico

PHOENIX – Adrian Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs, seven pitchers handcuffed U.S. hitters and Mexico rebounded from a disappointing opening loss with a decisive 5-2 win over the Americans in Pool D of the World Baseball Classic on Friday.

Coming off a last-inning loss to Italy, Mexico (1-1) tagged U.S. starter R.A. Dickey, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, for four runs in the first three innings, including a two-run homer by Gonzalez in the third.

“We went out and played as close to a perfect game as you can play in baseball,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez’s towering homer to the deepest part of the park, above the pool deck in right-center field, was upheld by a video review.

Team USA (0-1) managed six singles among its eight hits while stranding eight runners.

The U.S. team used Shane Victorino as a pinch hitter with one out in the seventh inning – the St. Anthony High School graduate popped out to third base.

Yovani Gallardo got Mexico off to a good start with 3 1/3 solid innings and Luis Cruz had two RBIs to give a boisterous, pro-Mexico crowd of 44,256 plenty to cheer about at Chase Field.

“We knew we had to win,” Mexico manager Rick Renteria said. “I don’t know if you’d consider it an upset or not, but we’re relishing in the victory.”

The U.S. team had two runners on in the fifth and sixth innings and failed to get a run in, and Jimmy Rollins was stranded at second in the seventh after a two-out double, the Americans’ first extra-base hit.

“You want to win the game and certainly we were ready to go out there today,” said U.S. manager Joe Torre. “But they did a better job at what they were doing than what we were doing.”

Rollins is one of three former major league MVPs on the U.S. roster. The Americans, who will play Italy today, have 12 players who have been named to All-Star teams.