Canada suffered a crippling loss to open the World Baseball Classic on Friday, falling 14-4 to Italy in a game that was ended by the mercy rule in the eighth inning.
Chris Colabello hit a three-run homer during a four-run third inning for Italy (2-0), which entered the game on a high after a 6-5 upset win over Mexico a day earlier.
Mike Costanzo thought he ended the game with a grand slam but it was eventually ruled a two-run double. It became a moot point one at-bat later.
Mario Chiarini hit a walk-off single that scored a run to put Italy ahead by the 10-run limit.
Four years ago Italy knocked Canada out of the WBC with a stunning 6-2 win at Toronto's Rogers Centre. When the rematch began, deja vu quickly set in.
Canada's bats went cold against Italian starter Alessandro Maestri, who allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts through 3 1/3 innings.
Chris Cooper, who shut out Canada (0-1) during two-plus innings in 2009, took over for Maestri and allowed one run on two hits through three more innings.
Canadian starter Shawn Hill allowed two runs on two hits before handing the ball over to Scott Mathieson, who served up Colabello's homer and was charged with four runs on five hits.
The loss put the Canadian side at a major disadvantage with just two games remaining. Advancing to the second round is still possible, but much more unlikely. Canada will play a Mexico team on Saturday with plenty of major-league talent before facing the star-studded Americans on Sunday.
Italy, meanwhile, is suddenly poised for a major breakthrough at a tournament where it has never advanced past the first round.
Italy got to Hill early. Nick Punto, the Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman, stole second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a groundout and scored on an RBI from Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Canada responded in the second with a pair of doubles off Maestri to tie the game at one. Michael Saunders opened the inning with a standup double to left field, then three batters later second baseman Pete Orr scored Saunders with a hard hit of his own.
Italy's offence came alive in the third inning after Hill was forced off the mound by the pitch count limit.
Mathieson replaced him and promptly walked Rizzo with two outs. An RBI single by Alex Liddi put Italy ahead by one, and Colabello followed with a first-pitch homer for a 5-1 lead.
With the bases loaded in the fifth, Mario Chiarini hit a sacrifice fly that Canadian centre-fielder Tyson Gillies slid to snag in the outfield. Liddi scored on the play to make it 6-1.
Canada cut the deficit in the sixth after a pair of Italian infielders each mishandled the ball. First, Justin Morneau moved to third after Liddi dropped the ball nearby.
Morneau then scored when Adam Loewen hit a ball to the first-base side. Colabello bobbled the ball but recovered and slid to the bag for the out.
Canada put pressure on Italy in the seventh inning. After pitcher Dan Serafini hit Morneau to load the bases with two outs, Saunders hit a two-run single to cut the deficit to 6-4.
But Italy added insurance with three runs in the bottom half of the frame.
Drew Butera delivered a crushing blow with a two-run double to left field off reliever Phillippe Aumont to restore Italy's five-run advantage.