Ichiro Suzuki broke out of a slump Saturday in Tokyo as defending champion Japan trounced South Korea 14-2 in seven innings to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
Suzuki, who was hitless in five at-bats in Japan's 4-0 win over China on Thursday, went three-for-five with three runs scored.
Japan improved to 2-0 in Pool A of the 16-nation tournament and booked a spot in the second round, starting March 15 in San Diego.
Olympic champion South Korea will play China on Sunday with the winner also advancing. China upset Taiwan 4-1 in Saturday's first game.
Playing before a capacity crowd of 45,640, Suzuki set the tone for Japan in the game's first at-bat with a sharp line drive to right off South Korean starter Kim Kwang-hyun.
The Seattle outfielder advanced to second on a Hiroyuki Nakajima single and then scored Japan's first run on Norichika Aoki's single up the middle.
Japan took a 3-0 first-inning lead on Seiichi Uchikawa's double down the left field line that scored Nakajima and Aoki.
Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, the MVP of the 2006 WBC, picked up the win after holding Korea to two runs on four hits over four innings.
South Korea cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the first on a two-run homer by cleanup-hitter Kim Tae-kyun, but the momentum quickly shifted back to Japan in the second inning.
Suzuki, who batted three-for-23 in exhibition games leading up to the tournament, laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Kenji Johjima to third and Akinori Iwamura to second.
Kim then walked in a run, Aoki added another on a fielder's choice before Shuichi Murata connected for a three-run homer to left, knocking Kim out of the game and giving Japan a commanding 8-2 lead.
Suzuki singled to lead off the fourth, stole second and scored to make it 9-2 when South Korea third baseman Lee Dae-ho made an error on a Nakajima grounder.
Japan scored two more runs in the top of the fifth on a double by Nakajima and a sacrifice fly by Aoki. Kenji Johjima then hit a two-run homer in the sixth to make it 13-2.
Michihiro Ogasawara drove in a run in the top of the seventh before Japan reliever Minoru Iwata struck out Lee Bum-ho for the third out in the bottom of seventh as the game ended under the tournament's mercy rule.
Korea beat Japan twice in the Olympics before going on to win the gold medal. Japan finished fourth.
The Koreans also beat Japan twice in the 2006 WBC but had to settle for third place.
Netherlands 3, Dominican Republic 2
At San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sidney Ponson held the Dominican lineup in check, and the Netherlands pulled off a huge upset.
It was a startling loss for the heavily favoured Dominicans, considered contenders to win the 16-team tournament. Now, they are one defeat from elimination in Group D pool play.
Ponson pitched four solid innings for the Netherlands, allowing two runs and five hits.
Miguel Tejada homered for the Dominican Republic, which reached the semifinals of the inaugural WBC three years ago before losing to Cuba.
Puerto Rico 7, Panama 0
At San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ivan Rodriguez homered twice, Carlos Delgado also connected and Puerto Rico got off to a rousing start.
Javier Vazquez combined with three relievers for a six-hitter in front of a boisterous home crowd of 17,348 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
Rodriguez, a longtime star still looking for a major league job this season, went 4-for-4 with four runs batted in and scored three times.
Bruce Chen gave up two runs and four hits in four innings for Panama, which will play the Dominican Republic in an elimination game Sunday. Chen struck out three and walked three.
Venezuela 7, Italy 0
At Toronto, Carlos Guillen and Melvin Mora hit solo home runs, Bobby Abreu singled in two runs in a four-run fifth inning for Venezuela.
Mora went 2-for-4 with three RBI and Jose Lopez went 3-for-3 with a walk and scored twice for Venezuela.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez allowed a single in four scoreless innings to earn the victory. He walked two and struck out four.
Venezuela can advance to the second round with a victory over the United States on Sunday night. Italy will seek to avoid elimination from Group C when it meets host Canada on Monday night.