The United States squad wasn't going to go quietly in its 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico on Friday.
After scratching across its first run of the contest an inning earlier, the U.S. rallied for two more in the eighth frame to carve into Puerto Rico's lead in Friday's World Baseball Classic elimination game.
Trailing 4-1 in the eighth, the U.S. forced Puerto Rico manager Edwin Gonzalez to go to his bullpen three different times in the inning. After Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino struck out to start the inning, four consecutive batters reached base. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins singled to right field and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips followed with an infield single. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun plated Rollins with an RBI double and Gonzalez turned to southpaw Xavier Cedeno, who walked Twins catcher Joe Mauer.
Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton stepped in against right-hander Fernando Cabrera with the bases loaded, but his fly ball to short left field didn't travel far enough to bring home Phillips from third. Ben Zobrist of the Rays, however, forced a run home with a bases-loaded walk.
After Gonzalez turned to lefty J.C. Romero, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer grounded out to second.
"We got a chance to break through, down 4‑0, and there's no ‑‑ as I say, there's no quit in this group," U.S. manager Joe Torre said. "We obviously got in a position where we could have tied it or taken the lead, and you give them credit. They did their job."
Down by four runs, the United States rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh, cutting its deficit to 4-1.
Mauer tripled on a line drive to center field with one out, before a single by Stanton scored Mauer from third.
After Zobrist grounded into a fielder's choice and Hosmer singled on a line drive to center, the U.S. threatened with runners on first and second and two outs.
However, the rally ended there, with Adam Jones striking out to end the inning.
"We had plenty of opportunities," U.S. outfielder Ryan Braun said. "I think the fact that we did eventually score some runs speaks to the fact that we continued to compete. We put ourselves in a position where we were one swing away from winning the game."
With the win over the U.S., Puerto Rico advances to play the Dominican Republic in a seeding game on Saturday and into the semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco on either Sunday or Monday against Japan or The Kingdom of the Netherlands.