Canada thumped the United States 6-1 in World Cup play Sunday, but the Americans stayed alive for a medal-round berth thanks to Taiwan's 3-1 defeat of Puerto Rico.
The loss to the Canadians dropped the U.S. to 3-3 in Panama in the last week, with a game to go Monday against host Panama. Puerto Rico is 3-4 but owns the tiebreaker, having beaten the U.S. head-to-head. The Americans, the two-time defending champions of the World Cup, must win to advance to the medal round.
Ex-big leaguer Shawn Hill, who last pitched in the big leagues in 2010 with Toronto, gave up just three hits in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. He pitched clean innings in the second, fourth and fifth and only left the game after Matt Clark (Padres) hit a solo homer to lead off the seventh, and Jordan Danks (White Sox) walked one out later.
Righty Chris Kissock (Phillies) got the final eight outs for the Canadians, finishing the combined four-hitter. Canada's offense had two big blows, a three-run homer in the second by Brock Kjelgaard (Brewers), and Canada put the game away with three runs in the ninth, including a two-run double by Tim Smith (Royals) and an RBI from Kjelgaard.
The homer came off starter Todd Redmond (Braves), who got his second loss after winning three starts during the 2009 World Cup. Redmond gave up six hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Randy Williams (Red Sox) gave up the three runs in the ninth.
Taiwan held Puerto Rico to just four hits while catcher Kuan-Wei Yang hit a two-run homer. Raymond Fuentes (Padres) had two hits for Puerto Rico and scored the team's only run, driven in by Neftali Soto (Reds).
The Netherlands beat Panama 7-3 Sunday to hand the hosts their first loss. The Dutch and Canada are both 6-1 in pool play with Canada earning the top seed.
Cuba shut out Nicaragua 6-0 and finished its pool at 7-0. The big news in the "B" group was the fourth straight victory by Australia, which was shut out in each of its first three games. The Aussies beat Germany (despite a solo homer by Twins prospect Max Kepler), then watched the Dominican Republic play South Korea. A Dominican win would have led to a three-way tie between Korea, Australia and the D.R., with run differential deciding the fourth and final spot in the medal round between the D.R. and Australia.
Instead, South Korea rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win 5-4 in 10 innings, eliminating the Dominican and handing Australia the fourth spot in the medal round from the group.
So Monday has two final makeup games before the medal round begins, as the U.S. must win against Panama, while winless Greece plays Taiwan in a meaningless contest. The one-and-done round begins Tuesday.