World Cup: U.S. Keeps Pace In Group A

Lefthander Drew Smyly (Tigers) struck out seven in six shutout innings and Matt Clark (Padres) homered for the second time as the United States beat Greece 3-0 in the World Cup in Panama.

Greece (0-4) was coming off consecutive blowout losses to Canada and the Netherlands but kept it close against the Americans with lefthander Theon Bourdaniotis, who pitched at Sacramento City CC as well as Division II Cal State Los Angeles. He gave up seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and struck out just three but kept Greece in the game after giving up a first-inning run on two singles and a double play.

However, Clark's two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth gave the U.S. breathing room, and Smyly was suffocating. While Greek reliever Pete Sikaras, a former Diamondbacks farmhand, pitched 2 1/3 scoreless as the team of mostly Greek-Americans held the U.S. offense in check, Smyly and relievers Chuckie Fick (Cardinals) and Randy Williams (Red Sox) combined to register 10 strikeouts in the combined shutout.

The U.S. got just eight hits but improved to 3-1, keeping it one game behind the three undefeated teams that are in Group A. The Americans' next three games are against those three clubs—the Netherlands, host Panama and Canada.

• Canada improved to 4-0 with a 4-0 shutout of Taiwan as outfielders Jamie Romak (Royals) and Tim Smith (Royals) each homered. Nick Bucci (Brewers) started the shutout with five two-hit innings, striking out seven while walking one. Lefty Andrew Albers (Twins) and righties Dustin Molleken (Rockies) and veteran Mike Johnson tossed four perfect innings combined out of the bullpen to preserve the victory.

"Nick was impressive tonight," Canada manager Ernie Whitt said. "He was great, he threw the ball aggressive in the zone and that's what we wanted him to do against this team."

Canada next plays host Panama, which got 12 strikeouts from four pitchers in a 6-2 victory against Japan. Righty Gilberto Mendez, 37, tossed three scoreless for Panama to get the win while veteran minor leaguer Angel Chavez had two doubles and two RBIs.

• Cuba edged South Korea 4-1 with a two-run homer in the fourth from Yulieski Gourriel proving the key blow, while Cuba's pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts in a six-hitter. Cuba is the lone undefeated team in Group B. Lefthander Yulieski Gonzales struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings en route to the victory, while relievers Vicyohandri Odelin and Yadier Pedroso allowed only one hit to wrap it up. Alexei Bell added a two-run double in the eighth to wrap up the scoring.

• The Netherlands remained unbeaten in Group A as Twins righthander Tom Stuifbergen dominated, pitching seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 win against Puerto Rico. Stuifbergen gave up five hits and struck out just two while throwing 85 pitches. DiDi Gregorius (Reds) had three hits while catcher Sidney De Jong and Bryan Engelhardt homered for the Dutch.

• Australia scored its first four runs of the tournament to beat manager Dennis Martinez and Nicaragua 4-3. Righty Ryan Searle (Cubs) pitched five innings for the win for the Aussies, giving up three runs, while Andrew Russell (Braves) and Brendan Wise (Tigers) wrapped up the victory with four scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Shortstop James Beresford (Twins) and former Phillies farmhand Brad Harman had two hits apiece for the Aussies while Stefan Welch (Mets) drove in their first run and catcher Joel Naughton (Phillies) hit a solo home run.

• Venezuela defeated the Dominican Republic 6-3 to move into second place in Group B at 3-1. Italy also improved to 3-1 after it defeated Germany 7-2. The Dominican and South Korea are both 2-2 in Group B.