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US beats China in physical 9-1 game

Aug. 18, 2008, 12:25 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Another American player took a pitch to the head, and the U.S. baseball team experienced a drama-filled game yet again during these Olympics in its victory over China.

Matt LaPorta was taken to the hospital for a precautionary CAT scan Monday night with dizziness only three days after Jayson Nix fouled a ball off his left eye and needed microsurgery. LaPorta has a mild concussion and will be monitored daily, according to the USOC.

Jake Arrieta struck out seven in six shutout innings, Taylor Teagarden and Nate Schierholtz each hit two-run doubles and the U.S. team beat China 9-1 in a game that turned ugly and featured three ejections.

If tempers had been this testy back home, the U.S. players figure benches might have cleared.

China's top player, catcher Wang Wei of the Seattle Mariners organization, was knocked out of the game with a left knee injury following a collision at the plate with LaPorta in the fifth.

After Schierholtz made a hard slide home against backup catcher Yang Yang on a sacrifice fly in the sixth - and Yang had to be held back from Schierholtz by teammates - China manager Jim Lefebvre was ejected for arguing about the rough play. Chinese reliever Chen Kun and pitching coach Steven Ontiveros were tossed soon after when Chen plunked LaPorta in the head to start the seventh.

That came after U.S. skipper Davey Johnson and Ontiveros were called out for a discussion about the situation and warned by the umpiring crew.

Johnson, angrily pointing at Chen, and his staff rushed out to check on LaPorta, who was down for several minutes before getting up and leaving the game.

"I think we not only lost the game but lost our catcher possibly for the rest of the games," Lefebvre said. "The umpire should have ejected (Schierholtz). That's when the game got out of hand. We do not throw to hit people. We do not teach that in China or in the U.S."

Yang homered with one out in the ninth for China's lone run and raised his right arm in the air the entire way around the bases. After the final out was made, the teams finally came together and shook hands.

John Gall added an RBI double in the Americans' three-run fifth and Terry Tiffee hit his sixth double of the Olympics that inning, tying a U.S. Olympic record set by Brent Abernathy during the 2000 Sydney Games.

Matt Brown also doubled for the U.S. team (3-2) on a night when fans from many nations came together to do the wave through all the stands, even in the outfield bleachers. Things didn't stay as friendly once the game got physical.

"We were focused on winning the ballgame and not getting into any kind of conflict," Arrieta said. "We know what we're here for."

Teagarden's double to the warning track in right scored Gall and LaPorta, who was called safe following a face-first dive into home and the collision with Wang. Ted Heid of the Mariners hurried down to check on Wang.

Lefebvre first came out to argue after Wang got hurt, then was livid when Schierholtz clobbered Yang to make it 5-0.

"It was a close game, 4-0 at the time. The outfielder was really shallow and I knew it would be a close play," Schierholtz said. "It was a heat-of-the-moment thing. I did what I had to do to score the run."

A Class-A pitcher in Baltimore's farm system, Arrieta consistently was clocked in the low-90s on the radar gun and his first five strikeouts were called before he retired Zhang Yufeng swinging leading off the fourth.

The hard-throwing right-hander, who pitched a scoreless inning in last month's Futures Game during the All-Star festivities at Yankee Stadium, allowed two hits and walked two with two hit batters.

Johnson shook up his lineup and batting order and his team took a quick lead. Brian Barden singled to start the bottom of the first and reached third on the play when right fielder Feng Fei booted the ball for a two-base error.

Schierholtz singled him home moments later against China starter Li Chenhao, who pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings with three hits against South Korea earlier in the tournament.

Schierholtz and Brown drew back-to-back walks to start the third but Li worked out of the jam.

China (1-4), managed by former major leaguer Lefebvre, won its first ever Olympic baseball game, 8-7 over Taiwan in 12 innings Friday. But the Chinese had to play South Korea during Sunday's scheduled rest day to make up their game that was suspended Thursday because of a downpour. China lost the game 1-0 in the 11th inning Sunday.

Earlier Monday, South Korea (5-0) seemed to be in command of its wild 9-8 victory over Taiwan after scoring seven runs and batting around in the first inning, then making it 8-0 in the second. But Taiwan rallied and the game was tied at 8 heading into the seventh before Kang Min-ho hit a go-ahead single.

South Korea will play Tuesday against fellow unbeaten Cuba (5-0), a 14-3 winner over the Netherlands in eight innings Monday night.

Atsunori Inaba homered to lead medal favorite Japan past Canada 1-0 in the other early game.