If you need four outs, K-Rod's there

Venezuelan closer records second successive save in Round 2 play

Closer Francisco Rodriguez records the final four outs for Team Venezuela on Monday. (Doug Benc/Getty)

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MIAMI -- When Francisco Rodriguez retired Jesus Feliciano on a groundout to second base, the closer broke into celebration after Venezuela's 2-0 win over Puerto Rico.

The New York Mets, meanwhile, probably were letting out a sigh of relief.

For the second time in three days, K-Rod was called upon for a four-out save while in the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium.

With such high stakes for Venezuela, manager Luis Sojo hasn't hesitated to use his prize closer. On Saturday, he worked four outs in closing out The Netherlands.

On Monday against Puerto Rico, Rodriguez inherited a 2-1 count with two outs in the eighth inning. He used three pitches to strike out Felipe Lopez with the tying runs on base.

K-Rod made quick work of Puerto Rico in the ninth inning, retiring the side in order. In all, he threw 20 pitches with 12 for strikes. On Saturday, he logged 22 pitches.

Sojo said he is in discussions on how much to use Rodriguez.

"We're talking about that," Sojo said. "The most important thing is, if he goes and he can go for outs, I'm going to do it [one-plus innings]. I just want to use him for one inning, but if he has that plus and he can give me one more out, I'm going to keep doing it.

"He had a day off [Sunday]. And we asked him today, and he said, 'I'm ready.' That's good enough for me."

Rodriguez set a Major League saves record in 2008, when he logged 62 for the Angels in 69 opportunities.

Ice packed after the game, Rodriguez spoke with reporters, and he insisted he is feeling fine.

"I'll be ready for whatever situation he needs me," he said. "I feel pretty strong right now. That's what we're really talking about. He asked me if I could go out and get it done, and I said, 'Yeah.'"

What's telling is K-Rod has had two four-out saves in three days of the Classic, and he didn't post one in 2008. In fact, his last one-plus inning save came on July 1, 2007.

Rodriguez is mindful of how he is feeling.

"I won't push myself," he said.

As for sitting in the dugout and waiting for the ninth inning, he said it isn't a big deal.

"Mentally, you have to be able to prepare when you come out of the game," Rodriguez said. "You have to go out there and make quality pitches."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.