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Defending champ Japan beats China

Mon., March 4, 2013, midnight

Two-time defending champion Japan beat China 5-2 on Sunday in Fukuoka, Japan, to improve to 2-0 in Group A of the World Baseball Classic.

With Japan up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth at Fukuoka Dome, Yoshio Itoi broke the game open with a bases-clearing double to center field that made it 5-0 for the hosts.

Japan starter Kenta Maeda picked up the win after striking out six and giving up one hit over five scoreless innings.

Two teams from the group will advance to the March 8-12 second round at Tokyo Dome with a chance to move on to the March 17-19 championship round in San Francisco.

Taiwan 8, Netherlands 3: Dai-Kang Yang batted in three runs, including two on a home run, to help pace host Taiwan to a victory over the Netherlands in a Group B game in Taichung, Taiwan.

Taiwan improved its record in the group to 2-0.

Yang’s two-run homer came during a three-run sixth inning, breaking the game open after Taiwan scored four in the fourth.

Dashenko Ricardo had two RBIs for the Dutch.

Cuba 5, Brazil 2: Cuba beat Brazil in Fukoka, Japan, in its first game of the World Baseball Classic.

Cuba, the 2006 runner-up, was held hitless through four innings but broke out with two runs in the fifth and padded its lead with three more in the sixth inning at Fukuoka Dome.

Frederich Cepeda scored from third on a fielder’s choice to give Cuba a 3-0 lead in the sixth and shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena drove in two more runs with a bases-loaded single to left.

Brazil responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth but that was all the scoring for Barry Larkin’s team, which dropped to 0-2.

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