Alfredo Despaigne hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, helping Cuba defeat two-time defending champion Japan 6-3 Wednesday to finish first in Group A of the World Baseball Classic.
Despaigne's home run off reliever Takeru Imamura at Fukuoka Dome in Japan put the game out of reach and allowed Cuba to set up a second-round showdown with Group B runner-up the Netherlands on Friday.
Yasmany Tomas hit a solo homer to left in the bottom of the third to give Cuba a 1-0 lead. Frederich Cepeda doubled in another run in the fourth, and Jose Abreu made it 3-0 on a single to left in the sixth that scored Luis Rivera from third.
Japan, which scored three runs in the ninth, will face Group B winner Taiwan in the second round at Tokyo Dome.