BEIJING - Fueled by a four-run rally in the fifth inning, the U.S. baseball team charged to an 8-4 victory over Japan to win the bronze medal Saturday at the Wukesong Baseball Field.
The U.S. used the long ball to post six of its runs. Matt LaPorta plated the first American run with a solo shot in the second inning to tie the score at 1-1. Matt Brown answered a three-run rally by Japan in the top of the third by hitting a three-run shot in the bottom half of the inning to draw the Americans even again at 4-4. Jason Donald had a two-run homer in the fifth to help put the U.S. out in front to stay. Brown, Donald and LaPorta each had two hits to pace the nine-hit U.S. attack.
Brett Anderson struck out six and walked three over seven innings to pick up his first win of the tournament. He was relieved in the eighth by Kevin Jepsen, who had a strikeout and a walk while surrendering only two hits to close out the win.
The bronze medal is the second won by the United States in Olympic baseball competition, with the other coming in 1996 at Atlanta. The U.S. won the gold medal at Sydney in 2000.
Archery competitor Khatuna Lorig, a native of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, was chosen to carry the flag for the United States at the closing ceremonies.
Lorig didn't medal in the Games, but learned while competing here that her homeland was the site of fighting involving Georgian and Russian forces. She worried for her friends and family.
"As an athlete, I tried to concentrate on the competition," Lorig said. "I finally was able to talk to them and I found out they were safe.
"That helped a great deal."
In other events:
-The United States tied with Japan to place fifth in team synchronized swimming as competition concluded at the National Aquatics Center Saturday afternoon.
The American squad finished with a score of 95.334. The gold medal team from Russia posted 99.500. Spain earned the silver with 98.251, while China won the bronze with 97.334.