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S. Korea edges Cuba for 1st baseball gold

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - South Korea turned a double-play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, holding on to beat Cuba 3-2 in the gold medal game at the Beijing Olympics.

It was the first gold medal for the Koreans in 16 years since baseball was added as an Olympic sport.

"This is outstanding. When we came here, we didn't think about the gold medal," said Korean pitcher Bong Jungkeun. "Our goal was third place. But every game we gave 200 percent."

Cuba, the three-time Olympic champions, took less than gold for the first time since winning silver behind the United States in 2000.

"Silver is a fine medal," said Cuban starter Pedro Luis Lazo. "We fought hard and I think that it's a good medal."

Earlier on Saturday, Taylor Teagarden hit the go-ahead two-run double in the fifth inning and Jason Donald followed with a two-run homer to lead the U.S. over Japan, 8-4, in the bronze medal game.

Trailing by a run, Cuba put three runners on base with one out in the ninth inning -- the last on a contentious walk to Alexei Bell.

Korean catcher Kang Minho was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire, even after his manager stepped in. Kang threw his mask to the ground and his glove against the bullpen wall.

Chong Taehyon was brought in to relieve Korean starter Ryu Hyunjin (2-0), and he induced a double-play off the bat of Yuliesky Gourriel to end the game

The infield turned the double-play flawlessly, with shortstop Park Jinman fielding the ball cleanly and making a swift toss to second baseman Ko Youngmin, whose throw to first beat Gourriel by several steps.

The Koreans celebrated in a huddle in the middle of the field. It was their second Olympic medal in baseball after a bronze in 2000.

Korea ended the tournament with a perfect 9-0 record, having already beaten Cuba earlier this week. Cuba (7-2) took its only two losses against the Koreans.

Korea jumped on Cuban starter Norberto Gonzalez (0-1) for two runs in the top of the first inning, taking the early lead on Lee Seungyuop two-run homer to left field.

Cuba came back with a run in the bottom of the inning, halving its deficit on Michel Enriquez's solo homer off starter Ryu.

That was the last run until Korea rallied for a score agianst Lazo with two outs in the seventh inning, sparked by a single from Park. A walk moved Park to second base, and he scored on Lee Yongkyu's double to make it 3-1.

But Cuba rebounded again with a run in the bottom of the seventh on Bell's solo homer, cutting its deficit to 3-2.

08/23 11:19:46 ET

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