Shimizu rebounds as Japan tops Greece

ATHENS, Greece -- Roughed up in his last start,
Naoyuki Shimizu rebounded with six-plus strong innings Sunday to
propel Japan into the Olympic medal round as the top seed.

Shimizu struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings as Japan earned a 6-1
victory over host Greece.

After lasting just 3 1/3 innings Wednesday against Australia in
Japan's only loss of the tournament, Shimizu yielded one run,
four hits and three walks in front of a very enthusiastic home

"I was pitching under the chanting of these great Greek
supporters," Shimizu said. "Truthfully, I didn't want to pitch
under these conditions, but even with such an atmosphere I was
able to pitch pretty well and I'm very pleased about it."

Yoshinobu Takahashi and Kosuke Fukudome each had two RBI for
Japan, which broke open a close contest with a four-run seventh.

"We had to step up with our batting, and we had some good hits,"
Takahashi said.

On Tuesday, the Japanese face Australia (4-3), which ended the
preliminary round with an 11-0 loss to Canada (5-2). Andy
Stewart and Jeremy Ware both had three RBI for Team Canada.

Despite the loss, Australia believes it has a chance against the
top seed after beating Japan, 9-4, behind 15 hits Wednesday.

"We got them (the Japanese) one time and maybe they have some
doubt in their minds," Aussie pitcher and former major leaguer
Graeme Lloyd said."Hopefully that will help."

In the other
early game, Chinese Taipei defeated the Netherlands, 5-1, behind
six outstanding innings by Wei-Lun Pan.

Pan allowed just a fourth-inning home run and struck out five
for Chinese Taipei, which finished out of the medal round with a
3-4 mark.

Cuba closed out preliminary at 6-1 with a 5-0 victory over Italy
(1-6). Ariel Pestano went 4-for-4 with three RBI for the
Cubans, who will enter the medal round a second seed due to a
loss to Japan.

The Cubans, who outscored their opponents, 41-17, in the
preliminary round, meet Canada on Tuesday.

"Although the competition has been quite hard, I think that we
have played quite well," Pestano said. "In general, we are not
pressured to win anything in Cuba, but we will be working hard
to get it (the gold)."