Fukuoka, Japan • Two-time defending champion Japan beat China 5-2 on Sunday to improve to 2-0 in Group A of the World Baseball Classic.
With Japan up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth at Fukuoka Dome, Yoshio Itoi broke the game open with a bases-clearing double to center field that made it 5-0 for the hosts.
Japan starter Kenta Maeda picked up the win after striking out six and giving up one hit over five scoreless innings.
"Our pitchers did very well tonight," Japan manager Koji Yamamoto said. "We’ve been a little worried about Maeda coming in, but he went out tonight and pitched a very strong game, which will give us confidence."
China got two of its three hits in the top of the ninth when it put pressure on Japan for the first time.
"Baseball is new in China and this was just another step," China manager John McLaren said. "I thought the guys played really hard. We didn’t hit much until the end of the game, so we’re just trying to get better with every game."
Cuba 5, Brazil 2 • In its first game of the tournament, Cuba was held hitless through four innings but broke out with two runs in the fifth and padded its lead with three more in the sixth inning in a Group A game in Fukuoka.
Frederich Cepeda scored from third on a fielder’s choice to give Cuba a 3-0 lead in the sixth and shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena drove in two more runs with a bases-loaded single to left.
Brazil responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth but that was all the scoring for Barry Larkin’s team, which dropped to 0-2.
Taiwan 8, Netherlands 3 • Dai-Kang Yang batted in three runs, including two on a home run, to help pace host Taiwan in a Group B game in Taichung. Taiwan improved its record in the group to 2-0, putting it in a strong position to advance to the next round in Tokyo.
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