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Venezuela stays alive, slips past Italy in playoff

The Associated Press

Venezuela’s Miguel Cabrera celebrates with teammates after hitting a game-tying home run in the ninth inning against Italy on Monday in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The Associated Press GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — Miguel Cabrera hit a tying homer and Rougned Odor delivered a go-ahead single during a three-run rally in the ninth inning that carried Venezuela past Italy 4-3 on Monday night and into the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

In a one-game tiebreaker that determined the final team to advance out of the first round, Cabrera’s solo shot to right-center evened the score at 2 in the top of the ninth. With a runner on, Odor launched an opposite-field drive off the top of the left-center fence and held up at first base with an RBI single after thinking the ball had cleared the wall.

Odor later scored on a nicely executed suicide squeeze by Alcides Escobar. Francisco Rodriguez gave up Alex Liddi’s leadoff homer in the bottom half before getting three straight groundouts for the save, eliminating Italy.

One night after getting a late reprieve from WBC officials, Venezuela moved on to face the United States in the Pool F opener for both teams Wednesday in San Diego.

Puerto Rico, which went 3-0 to win Venezuela’s first-round pool, and the defending champion Dominican Republic are the other teams in Pool F. Two will advance to the single-elimination semifinals at Dodger Stadium next week.

The Venezuelans lost to Mexico on Sunday night, leaving Italy, Venezuela and Mexico all at 1-2 after round-robin play was completed in Pool D. The host team was eliminated on a close tiebreaker — runs allowed per inning played.

Initially, the WBC Twitter account declared that Monday night’s tiebreaker game would be between Mexico and Italy. Officials then informed Venezuela of the proper calculation.

Venezuela, with a bevy of major league stars on its roster, advanced despite allowing 35 runs in the first round — the third-highest mark in tournament history. South Africa and China gave up 38 each in 2006.

Israel brought back to Earth

TOKYO (AP) — Didi Gregorius drove in five runs Monday to lead the Netherlands over Israel 12-2 and hand the tournament debutants their first loss of the World Baseball Classic.

Gregorius doubled in a run in the third when the Netherlands scored four to take a 6-0 lead. The designated hitter then hit a three-run homer in the fourth to make it 10-0.

Gregorius also drove in a run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly when the Netherlands added two more runs. The game was called after eight innings under the 10-run mercy rule.

Israel beat the Netherlands 4-2 in the first round in Seoul but saw a different team on Monday at Tokyo Dome. Jair Jurrjens picked up the win after striking out five and holding Israel to one run on five hits over six innings.

Wladimir Balentien, who plays in Japan, also had a big night at the plate, driving in three runs.

Iwakuma battered by Brewers

In major league preseason action, Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered, doubled twice and drove in six runs and Milwaukee tagged Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma for seven runs in 2⅔ innings of the Brewers’ 24-3 blowout of the Mariners.

Milwaukee added 10 more in the fourth as the Brewers, who also got home runs from Orlando Arcia, Travis Shaw and Keon Broxton.

Los Angeles Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda struck out seven in 3⅔ innings, and the only hit he gave up was a home run by Albert Pujols in a 3-1 win over the crosstown rival Angels.

Ricky Nolasco went four innings in the start for the Angels, giving up four hits and allowing three earned runs.

Texas starter Yu Darvish threw 28 pitches in the first inning but struck out three, then finished with six strikeouts in 3⅓ innings in the Rangers’ 7-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Carlos Gomez hit an opposite-field grand slam for the Rangers.

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