Baseball

Casas, Kazmir lead U.S. past Dominican in Olympic baseball to remain in gold medal contention

Triston Casas hit his third home run of the Olympics, a two-run drive in the first inning off Boston Red Sox double-A teammate Denyi Reyes, and the United States beat the Dominican Republic 3-1 on Wednesday to stay in gold medal contention.

Americans will play loser of Japan-South Korea for berth in gold-medal game

United States outfielder Christopher Austin (23) celebrates with infielder Triston Casas (26) after a solo home run against Dominican Republic in a baseball repechage contest during the Tokyo Olympics. (Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports)

Triston Casas hit his third home run of the Olympics, a two-run drive in the first inning off Boston Red Sox double-A teammate Denyi Reyes, and the United States beat the Dominican Republic 3-1 on Wednesday to stay in gold medal contention.

Tyler Austin, a former major-leaguer in his home ballpark of the Central League's Yokohama Bay Stars, added a solo home run in the fifth, his second long ball of the tournament.

The U.S. (3-1) plays next on Thursday night, meeting the loser of Wednesday night's Japan-South Korea matchup for a berth in this weekend's gold medal game.

Scott Kazmir (1-0) escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first, and the 37-year-old left-hander went on to pitch two-hit ball over five scoreless innings.

Four relievers finished, with David Robertson allowing a two-out homer in the ninth to Charlie Valerio. The U.S. was outhit 5-3 and overcame three errors and a 0-for-12 afternoon from its Nos. 6-9 batters.

Austin walked with one out in the first, and Casas drove a 1-1 pitch to centre. He is batting .313 with eight RBIs.

A 21-year-old first baseman at Portland, Maine, Casas was the 26th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft. He is hitting .271 with six homers and 30 RBIs for the Sea Dogs this season.

Reyes (0-1), a 24-year-old right-hander, allowed two runs and two hits in four innings. He is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in two starts and 11 relief appearances at Portland.

Austin, who has a .412 average and five RBIs, homered to straightaway centre against Gabriel Arias, a late addition to the Dominican roster.

Kazmir was starting on 16 days' rest since facing a college all-star team in a July 18 exhibition in North Carolina. The three-time All-Star had a 6.43 ERA in two starts and a relief appearance this season for San Francisco, his first big league appearance in five years, then was sent outright to triple-A Sacramento on June 11. He made three starts for the River Cats before reporting to the Olympic team.

On a broiling day with a 32.2 Celsius degree temperature at game time and high humidity, Kazmir threw 77 pitches, struck out five and walked one.

Brandon Dickson, a 36-year-old right-hander nine years removed from his last big league appearance, pitched out of trouble in the sixth after Casas misplayed a grounder to first and second baseman Eddy Alvarez made a poor throw to second on another grounder for consecutive errors. Juan Francisco grounded into a double play and Johan Mieses popped out.

Scott McGough, a 31-year-old former Miami reliever who blew a save against Japan two nights earlier, got out of two-on trouble in the eighth when Jose Bautista took consecutive sliders and was called out by plate umpire Jair Fernandez of Mexico, prompting complaints from the six-time All-Star.

Anthony Gose pitched a perfect eighth, and Robertson got his second save, walking Jeison Guzman before striking Yefri Perez.

Playing 14 hours after their ninth-inning comeback win over Israel, the Dominicans (2-3) started five switch-hitters and just one left-handed batter against Kazmir. They will play Thursday night's loser for the bronze medal.

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