The United States improved to 8-0 with three more victories over the weekend in the Pan Am Qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico, heading into Monday's second-round finale with Cuba.
USA Baseball's professional national teams have now won 21 games in a row, dating back to last September's World Cup in Europe. The U.S. lost its first game there last year against Venezuela but won out to win the World Cup and start its current streak.
The Americans beat Canada 4-0 on Sunday after wins Friday against Venezuela (6-3 in 12 innings) and Nicaragua (5-0). Team USA has allowed just 18 runs in eight games and has three shutouts, with Todd Redmond (Braves) and Mike Montgomery (Royals) starting the two shutouts over the weekend.
Montgomery had eight in five innings to beat Canada and has 14 in 10 innings in the tournament. Fellow Royals farmhands Mike Moustakas (three hits) and Eric Hosmer (2-for-4, HR) provided much of the offensive support against Canada's starter, former big leaguer Mike Johnson, with Hosmer's solo homer in the ninth coming off Henry Mabee (White Sox). Montomery and relievers Bryan Henry (Diamondbacks; three hitless innings) and Tim Collins (Royals) combined to yield just four hits and three walks.
On Saturday, the U.S. left 13 runners on base but scored four runs in the 12th inning to beat Venezuela. Outfielder Mike Trout (Angels) has added international admirers after hitting leadoff home runs to start both the Venezuela and Canada victories, and his three homers leads Team USA in the event.
The U.S. already has clinched a spot in the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, next October. Now Team USA plays Cuba, still a formidable opponent despite a recent loss of its dominance in international competition. USA Baseball's professional teams have won five of the last eight head-to-head meetings, including a 10-5 victory last September in the World Cup final. Cuba defeated the College National Team this summer in Taiwan, however, with a roster that included the younger (27-and-under) members of its regular national team roster.
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