The United States baseball team is in a big hole in these Olympics, and down a key player, too.
Jayson Nix fouled a ball off his left eye to start the bottom of the 11th inning of the Americans' 5-4, 11-inning loss to defending champion Cuba, left the game for the hospital and is likely done for the rest of the Beijing Games.
"He's in bad shape," said U.S. manager Davey Johnson, who accused the Cubans and burly pitcher Pedro Lazo of purposely going at Nix's head.
Nix was bleeding badly after the injury and had a lot of swelling, Johnson said.
Lazo, who hustled to home plate to check on Nix right away, denied going after the batter on purpose.
Michel Enriquez lined a go-ahead two-run single in the 11th. Lazo pitched six innings of relief for the win.
Cuba is 3-0 and in strong position for a medal. At 1-2, the U.S. can ill afford many more slipups if it wants to reach the medal stand.
International baseball's new extra-innings rule was used for the first time Friday. Beginning in the 11th inning, runners go to first and second and teams can start at any point in their batting order.
After Nix went down, Brian Barden dropped a perfect bunt to move runners to second and third for Terry Tiffee. He hit a sacrifice fly, but Matt Brown popped up foul to the catcher to end it.
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