August 27, 2006

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  • Kurt Suzuki might just be re-contemplating his greatest baseball moment.

    Suzuki, a 2004 second round pick of the Oakland Athletics, blasted a walk-off home run in the 10th inning as Team USA fended off Brazil, 8-7, in its second game of pool play at the 2006 Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Havana, Cuba.

    A native of Hawaii, the 22-year-old catcher hit a 3-2 pitch from Brazilian reliever Marcelo Arai over the left-field fence for the game-winner. He was mobbed by his teammates as he reached home plate. It was his only at-bat of the game.

    Team USA held a one-run margin heading into the top of the ninth when manager Davey Johnson summoned for Henry Owens, who posted 20 saves while allowing only one home run in 40 innings for the New York Mets' Double-A affiliate in Binghamton, NY. Owens promptly surrendered the lead when Tiago Magalhes tied the game with a solo home run, his second of the contest.

    The game remained 7-7 until Suzuki's home run in the 10th.

    Brazil got an early jump on Team USA and its starter Nick Adenhart in the top of the first. Adenhart walked the leadoff batter, Evaldo Yamoka, and then Ronald Ono reached on an error by first baseman Bryan LaHair. After recording a strikeout, Adenhart allowed an RBI single to Brazilian second baseman Reinalo Sato.

    Team USA threatened in the bottom of the first after Brazil's starter, Gilmar Pereira, walked the bases loaded. However, the Americans came up empty but Pereira couldn't escape further trouble in the second. Pereira again walked the bases loaded with two outs but Mike Kinkade registered the first U.S. hit of the game with a two-run single.

    Adenhart settled down after the first but allowed home runs in the fourth and fifth inning, a solo shot to Marcos Guimares in the fourth and a two-run blast by Magalhes in the fifth. Brazil led 4-2 as Nic Ungs replaced Adenhart on the mound for the U.S.

    Team USA wasted no time in re-gaining an advantage as an RBI triple by LaHair and a two-run home run by Chad Allen propelled the U.S. to a 5-4 lead.

    Brazil tied it again in the sixth on its fourth home run of the game, a solo homer by Luis Camagro off Ungs. The Brazilians broke the 5-5 deadlock in the seventh against U.S. reliever J.B. Cox when an error by Kinkade extending the inning for Camagro to deliver an RBI single.

    Once again, Team USA showed its resiliency when pinch-hitter Billy Butler connected for a two-run home run off Brazilian reliever Marcio Sakane. Butler's blast gave Team USA a 7-6 advantage that it held until the ninth inning.

    U.S. reliever Jeff Farnsworth pitched a scoreless 10th and was credited with the victory. Arai worked 1 2/3 innings for Brazil but suffered the loss after allowing Suzuki's homer. Farnsworth was the only pitcher in the game from either side that did not allow a run.

    Allen, Butler and Kinkade each had a pair of RBIs for Team USA.

    Team USA is scheduled to face Aruba at Stadium Nelson Fernandez on Monday at 2pm ET.

    Notes: Team USA pitchers combined to record 13 strikeouts in the game...The teams combined to leave 18 runners on base....Other tournament scores: Cuba 7, Panama 6; Canada 6, Puerto 5; Mexico 5, Venezuela 4...The All-Star Futures Games in Pittsburgh this past July saw its first Brazilian participant, Anderson Gomes of the Chicago White Sox system...Gomes is batting .250 with six home runs and 29 RBIs for Class A Kannapolis (NC).