Jason Hardke had to think long and hard to remember the last time he had to play a baseball game at 9 a.m., as the United States team did this morning against Mexico at CanWest Global Park.

The result--a 5-1 victory for the United States--made up for any inconvenience caused by the early start. The players had to wake up at 6 a.m., one day after playing for 4 1/2 hours and 11 innings in a disappointing 7-6 loss to Canada.

"It was awkward having to play at 9 in the morning, so that didn't help things," said Hardke, a Class AAA third baseman with the Cincinnati Reds organization. "Everyone was trying to figure out the last time they had to play at 9--it must've been Little League.

"But to get a victory is great," Hardke said. "This was basically a must-win situation for us. Confidence-wise, we needed to rebound from that [Canada] game."

Marcus Jensen, a Class AA catcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, hit two home runs--one from each side of the plate--driving in all five U.S. runs. His fifth-inning, three-run home run erased a 1-0 Mexico lead.

Oakland pitching prospect Mark Mulder recorded the win with 6 2/3 strong innings, giving up one run on six hits.

"We were all concerned as a coaching staff because yesterday was such a disappointment," U.S. Manager Buddy Bell said. "But Mark pitched a great game, and that was huge for us. Now we have the rest of the day to enjoy the win. Maybe playing at 9 a.m. was the best thing for us, because we came out with a lot of intensity." . . .

Right-hander Brad Penny will start for the United States on Wednesday against Cuba. The United States (1-1) needs to finish among the top four teams in its pool to advance to the quarterfinals. Canada is 2-0, Cuba is 2-0, Mexico is 1-2 and Brazil is 0-3.

The Winnipeg Free Press is producing a special section every day throughout the Pan Am Games. Today's front page headline, over a picture of the Canadian baseball team celebrating its win over the United States: "A Miracle on Grass."

Germantown's Tang in Final

Germantown's Yeping Tang advanced to the final of the women's badminton competition with a 13-11, 11-8 victory over defending Pan Am Games champion Denyse Julien of Canada. Tang will face Canadian Charmaine Reid in the final on Wednesday.

Tang, 30, was born in China but moved to the United States five years ago. On July 9, Tang was sworn in as a U.S. citizen, which made her eligible to compete for the United States in both the Pan Am and Olympic Games.

The top 29 singles players, as ranked by the International Badminton Federation, will be selected for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Pan Am participants will receive points for the world ranking.

Julien is a 20-year veteran of the Canadian national team and was one of the favorites to win the gold medal. When Julien's final shot went long, Tang raised her arms and smiled.

"I thought I had a good chance" to make the final, said Tang, who swept the singles, doubles, and mixed-doubles titles at the 1999 U.S. championships. "It was my first time playing [Julien]. She is a very good, experienced player. . . . I'm very excited to be here."