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US Beats Netherlands to Stay Alive in Baseball Classic


The United States has kept its hopes alive in the World Baseball Classic by eliminating the team from the Netherlands.

The U.S.-Netherlands match-up in Miami was a chance for one team to avoid elimination in the World Baseball Classic. Only seven teams now remain from the original pool of 16 squads from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

The United States showed it could come back strong, after an embarrassing 11-1 loss to Puerto Rico, Saturday, when officials ended the game early because the American team was down by 10 runs.

Team USA's starting pitcher Sunday, Roy Oswalt, says his focus was to be aggressive with Dutch hitters, from the start.

"You try to set a win early, in the first inning you try to get some quick outs," Oswalt explained. "That is the mentality I take after a loss is do not try to go out there and be too fine [careful], just go out and pound the strike zone."

Oswalt did just that, throwing five strikeouts and allowing no runs in four innings.

American batters opened an early lead and pulled away for good in the fourth inning, when Jimmy Rollins and Brian Roberts hit back-to-back triples to put the difference at five runs. Rollins batted in four runs, himself, including a home run in the second inning.

The loss ends the underdog run for the Netherlands, which has few major league players compared to some other teams. The Dutch team stole the attention in its first-round play, defeating the powerhouse Dominican Republic twice to advance.

Catcher Kenley Jansen says the players are proud of getting as far as they did.

"This has been exciting. Nobody thought we would be here in the second round, after beating the Dominican Republic twice," Jensen said. "I like it [the tournament] and I hope next time we can go farther."

The United States now faces the loser of Monday's game between Venezuela and Puerto Rico in pool two.

Meanwhile, play opened in pool one, in San Diego, where the tournament's defending champion Japan silenced Cuba in a 6-0 victory. Pitching ace Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out eight batters in six innings and gave up only five hits. Japan relied on the same pitcher to defeat Cuba in the championship game, three years ago.

It was the first loss in the tournament for Cuba, which hit 11 home runs in the first round of games played in Mexico City. Cuban batters managed little against Japan, which gave up hits to five different hitters - only one of them for extra bases.

The pool with Cuba and Japan includes Korea and Mexico. The top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals that open in Los Angeles, Saturday.


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