Oliver Perez and seven relievers combined to pitch a three-hitter Thursday night as Mexico beat the Rocket and the United States 2-1, giving Japan another shot at Korea in the WBC semifinals.
The outcome was a stunner, considering Team USA fielded a lineup loaded with All-Stars even without Derrek Lee and Johnny Damon, sidelined with sore left shoulders.
South Korea had a 3-0 second-round record in Group One, with Team USA, Japan and Mexico all going 1-2. Japan earned the second semifinal berth from the group by allowing the fewest runs in games between the tied teams.
Japan, which has already lost twice to South Korea in the Classic, faces its archrival in Saturday's opening semifinal game at Petco Park in San Diego, with the Dominican Republic meeting Cuba on Saturday night. The winners play Monday night for the championship.