Dominican Republic cruises
In the first game of Group C play, Hanley Ramirez homered and Cano doubled twice to help the Dominicans get off to a strong start in a first-round pool that also includes Puerto Rico and Spain.
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The Dominican Republic might not have the pitching depth of the U.S., but they have the talent to win. Their full power was on display in a 9-3 win against Venezuela, writes David Schoenfield. Blog
Say what you want about the WBC, but Italy's comeback win against Mexico showed why it sure beats spring training games, writes Jim Caple. Story
Venezuela slugger Miguel Cabrera went 0 for 4 with a walk and stranded three runners in a game that took 3 hours, 55 minutes -- not including a 50-minute rain delay.
The Dominican Republic scored five runs in the first two innings and sealed it with three in the seventh.
Italy 6, Mexico 5
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Anthony Rizzo thought he hit a homer. A sacrifice fly, at least.
He got neither and still sent Italy to its biggest win in three years of the World Baseball Classic.
Rizzo hit a two-run double off San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo in the ninth inning, Jason Grilli escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half and Italy rallied to beat Mexico 6-5 in the opening game of Pool D.
The Italian team got a break when Mexican left fielder Edgar Gonzalez couldn't handle Rizzo's flyball in the sunlight at Salt River Fields.
"I talked to some of the guys that played before for Italy and they said the energy is unreal," Rizzo said. "Today, right out of the gate was unreal."
Italy won the European championship last year, but had struggled in the WBC, failing to get out of the first round each of the previous two tournaments in 2006 and 2009.
Netherlands 6, Cuba 2
TOKYO -- Jonathan Schoop hit a three-run homer to lead the Netherlands to a 6-2 win over Cuba in a second-round game on Friday.
Curt Smith homered and Andrelton Simmons added an RBI single to give the Netherlands a 2-0 lead in the second inning while chasing Cuba starter Ismel Jimenez.
Schoop's sixth-inning drive into the left-field stands at Tokyo Dome gave the Netherlands a 5-1 cushion in the first game of the second round in Asia. Two-time defending champion Japan was set to face Taiwan later Friday.
Alfredo Despaigne homered in the second inning to give Cuba its first run. Yulieski Gourriel went deep in the seventh to cut the deficit to 5-2.
Japan 4, Taiwan 3
TOKYO -- Sho Tanaka drove in the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning Friday to lift defending champion Japan past Taiwan 4-3 in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
Tanaka's fly to the warning track in left allowed Nobuhiro Matsuda to score from third. Toshiya Suguichi retired Taiwan in the bottom of the 10th to clinch the win.
Japan will face the Netherlands on Sunday with a chance to secure a spot in the March 17-19 final round in San Francisco. Japan is attempting to win a third straight WBC title without its top players from Major League Baseball.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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