Cuba crushes China 12-0 at World Baseball Classic

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By JIM ARMSTRONG, Associated Press

FUKUOKA, Japan (AP) — Jose Abreu hit a grand slam to help Cuba clobber China 12-0 Monday and ensure that it would advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

The Cuban infielder drove in five runs and the game at the Fukuoka Dome was called under the tournament's mercy rule after the seventh inning. Throughout the game, Cuba displayed the type of firepower that makes it one of the title contenders.

"We're very happy to have two wins from two games," Cuba manager Victor Mesa said. "But we are not 100 percent yet, we have some minor issues and I feel we are lacking something but we are happy to be 2-0."

Alexei Bell hit a towering two-run homer to left to make it 4-0 in the fourth and Alfredo Despaigne put the result beyond doubt in the same inning when he doubled on a sharp ground ball to left, scoring Jose Fernandez and Frederich Cepeda to make it 6-0.

Fernandez singled in two more runs in the fifth before Abreu's grand slam.

"We knew it was going to be a difficult game because Cuba is so good," China manager John McLaren said. "They are so powerful and we had limited pitching today. I see a lot of major league talent on that Cuban team."

Cuba starter Danny Betancourt struck out eight and gave up only one hit in 4 2-3 innings. China starter Li Xin gave up five runs on eight hits over 3-1-3 innings to take the loss.

Cuba next faces Japan on Wednesday. Cuba's win also means that Japan advances to the March 8-12 second round at Tokyo Dome. Bell said it will be a lot tougher to score runs against Japan's solid pitching staff.

"Japan is always competitive," Bell said. "Their pitching is at a very high level so it will be a lot tougher to hit against them."

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