U.S. Stays Hot in World Cup; Spain Pulls Upset

Cuba remained the last unbeaten team at the 2009 World Cup, while Team USA remained one of the hottest terams, against cruising to an easy victory Monday. The Americans beat Netherlands Antilles 11-1 in seven innings as Justin Smoak (Rangers) hit two more home runs, giving him five for the event in five games.  

Smoak’s pair of homers included a three-run shot during a six-run seventh inning, as well as a solo shot in the fifth. Team USA’s first two runs also came on solo shots by Lucas May (Dodgers), in the second, and Jon Weber (Rays), in the fifth. The Americans lead the event with 14 home runs.

Meanwhile, Team USA continued to get sterling starting pitching, as lefthander Kasey Kiker (Rangers) combined with righthander Lucas Harrell (White Sox) on a two-hitter. Kiker walked five in four innings and gave up a run but also allowed only one hit while striking out seven. Harrell, who was credited with the victory, struck out two and allowed only the one hit.

The last four American starters—Kiker, lefties Cory Luebke (Padres) and Trevor  Reckling (Angels), and righthander Todd Redmond (Braves), have combined to allow just one earned run, seven hits and 35 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. 

Team USA plays Japan on Tuesday to continue second-round pool play.

Cuba beat previously unbeaten Nicaragua 4-1 as Yulieski Gonzalez and ageless Pedro Luis Lazo combined on a six-hitter. Cuba managed just five hits of their own but two were home runs, both two-run shots by Yulieski Gourriel (in the sixth) and Alfredo Despaigne (in the eighth).

The other unbeaten team to fall Monday night was Venezuela, which lost 8-1 to Spain in the biggest upset of the event so far. Playing in Amsterdam, Spain got three more hits from Daniel Figueroa (Orioles) to key the offense, and righthander Eric Gonzalez (Padres) had a strong start. Spain scored three in the first to give Gonzalez, a 23-year-old native of the Canary Islands, an early cushion. Gonzalez, who struck out four and gave up five hits in 5.1 innings Monday, split this season as a reliever between low Class A Fort Wayne and high Class A Lake Elsinore, going 4-2, 4.34 overall in 51 games (one start). In 85 innings, he struck out 76 and walked 21.

In other games of note:

• Australia edged Canada 5-3 in 10 innings, scoring three in the 10th with the aid of the tiebreaker rule. Luke Hughes (Twins) and Rene Tosoni (Twins), teammates this year at Double-A New Britain, traded solo homers in the ninth inning for their respective clubs as the Aussies improved to 4-1 in the tournament, while Canada lost its second straight game after a 3-0 start.

• South Korea broke a 5-5 tie with 10 runs in the bottom of the seventh to end this one early, claiming a 15-5 victory in seven. Meanwhile, Mexico beat host Italy 6-3, as ex-big leaguer Oscar Robles went 3-for-3 for Mexico. Host Netherlands got three hits (including a run-scoring triple in a three-run fifth inning) from second baseman Sharlon Schoop (Giants) in its 5-2 victory against Puerto Rico. Righty Dennis Neuman (Red Sox), a 19-year-old from Curacao, got out of a ninth-inning jam to save the win for veteran Dutch righy Rob Cordemans.