Cuba, South Korea post shutouts at World Baseball Classic

Jose Abreu hit a grand slam Monday to lead Cuba to a 12-0 rout over China in Group A of the World Baseball Classic.

Jose Abreu hits grand slam for Cubans

Cuba's first baseman Jose Abreu, right, is welcomed by teammate Tomas Yasman at home after hitting a grand slam off China's Liu Yu in the fifth inning in Fukuoka, Japan. (Koji Sasahara/Associated Press)

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 in Fukuoka, Japan 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 per cent 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."

South Korea 6, Australia 0

Seung Song allowed two hits in four innings and South Korea beat Australia 6-0 Monday night in Group B of the World Baseball Classic.

The win lifted the South Koreans to 1-1 in the group and set up a crucial game against host Taiwan on Tuesday. Australia fell to 0-2.

Kim Hyun-soo drove in two runs for South Korea, which rebounded from an uncharacteristically sloppy display against the Netherlands in a 5-0 loss.

With a 2-0 record, the Taiwanese remain in a commanding position to advance to the next round in Tokyo. The Netherlands is also 1-1 after stunning South Korea, but must beat Australia on Tuesday. reldate