MIAMI — Trea Turner hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning to defeat Venezuela, 9-7, on Saturday night to advance to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic.
Defending champions Team USA will face Cuba on Sunday night to qualify for the WBC Championship.
Venezuelan second baseman and Houston Astros star Jose Altuve left the game in fifth with an injured right hand after being hit by Daniel Byrd’s pitch.
The Astros said they will have an update on his status on Sunday.
Trailing 7–5, the U.S. walked in the eighth inning, singled, and loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch against losing pitcher Jose Quijada.
Silvino Bracho was relieved, and Turner, the ninth hitter in the U.S. lineup, sent an 0-2 changeup 407 feet to left field for the third Grand Slam in Team USA history.
A fifth American pitcher, David Bednar, won the game. Ryan Presley got 3 outs for the save.
Luis Araez, who will be playing at the ballpark soon to be home to the Miami Marlins, hit two homers in Venezuela.
The US team boasts a roster of big names that many have picked for repeat as WBC champions.
The nine hitters in Team USA’s lineup include Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado. All are all-stars.
The United States is in the top six of the tournament in batting average (.296), RBI (34) and hits (48), with every US starter hitting on Saturday night.
Venezuela took a 6-5 lead with a fifth of four runs after Ronald Acuna Jr.’s sacrifice fly to center field.
Salvador Perez drove the tying run with a line drive double that snuck just inside the left field foul line.
Alaez hit a two-run drive into right field, the first home run in the first, and added another home run in the seventh to give Venezuela a two-run lead. Araez, the reigning AL batting champion, was traded to the WBC host Miami Marlins this offseason after spending four seasons in Minnesota.
Byrd replaced starter U.S. starter Lance Lynn for a three-run lead in the fifth inning, loading the bases with two walks, an infield hit, and a hit-by-pitch that injured Altuve.
Bard was pulled out after Gleyber Torres scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. Venezuela added his three runs in the final against Jason Adam, who managed to get out of the inning on ten balls.
Team USA hit five straight singles to start the game. Betts took the lead first on an infield single, then the Speedsters raced from first to third on Trout’s single before being forced to score on Acuna’s throwing error.
Kyle Tucker also hit a home run