By Al BalderasThe Orange County RegisterLOS ANGELES – Japan scored five runs in the fourth inning to reach the finals of the World Baseball Classic with a 9-4 victory over the United States on a cold and windy Sunday night at Dodger Stadium.Japan will appear in its second consecutive WBC final game, playing Korea on Monday night. It will be the fifth time the teams will have faced each other since the tournament started on March 5. They split the previous four games, with Japan holding a 21-9 edge in cumulative runs.”They were fundamentally sound,” Jimmy Rollins of the U.S. said of Japan. “They took advantage of mistakes. They didn’t worry about trying to drive the ball out of the park. When you put the ball in play, you can find some holes. They definitely did that.”The United States took a 1-0 lead Sunday on the second pitch of the game when Brian Roberts hit a home run to center field.Japan tied the score in the second on a sacrifice fly by Kenji Johjima, only to watch Team USA go back on top in the third. Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins singled with two outs, stole second and scored on David Wright’s double off the right-center field wall for a 2-1 U.S. lead.Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka started for Japan, and although he looked shaky at times, he gave his team 42/3 solid innings.The U.S. had runners on base in four of the first five innings and left 10 runners on base in the game.”Dice-K was Dice-K,” Rollins said of Matsuzaka. “A lot of pitches and a way to squeak out a win.”Houston Astros and Team USA starting pitcher Roy Oswalt said before Friday’s workout, that he could throw 100 pitches if necessary.For the first three innings it looked like he was up to the task. His night ended after throwing 66 in 32/3 innings.Atsunori Inaba and Michihiro Ogasawara singled to start the bottom of the fourth and Kosuke Fukudome followed with a hard grounder off Roberts’ glove at second base. Inaba scored on the error andOgasawara scrambled to third.Johjima tied the score at two with his second sacrifice fly of the game and Akinori Iwamura hit a two-run triple to give Japan a 4-2 lead.Japan pulled away with an RBI single by Munenori Kawasaki. Kawasaki scored on a two-out double byHiroyuki Nakajima, giving Japan a 6-2 advantage.Oswalt was replaced by John Grabow, who got the final out of the inning.”I had hoped to have him (Grabow) ready by the eighth hitter (Iwamura) but it was awful cold out there,” Team USA manager Davey Johnson said.”I didn’t think it was going to take him so long. It was my fault. It took him longer in the cool weather to get loose.”The U.S. crept closer by tagging Takahiro Mahara for two runs in the eighth inning. Mark DeRosa doubled to score Ryan Braun and Brian McCann, cutting Japan’s lead to 6-4.DeRosa wound up at third base when left fielder Norichika Aoki overran the ball in the left-field corner. But Evan Longoria struck out and Roberts grounded to the pitcher for the final out.Japan responded with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, one of which was charged to Angels reliever Scot Shields.Two of the three runs for Japan in the eighth inning were unearned because of a throwing error by Derek Jeter.(Distributed by MCT)

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