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US drubs Venezuela to advance

KEVIN Youkilis crushed a two-run homer to cap a big sixth inning for the United States as it came from behind to beat Venezuela 15-6 in Toronto and secure a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic on Sunday.

Determined to atone for an embarrassing eighth place at the inaugural WBC in 2006, the US improved to 2-0 and tops Pool C but was made to work for its win by the scrappy Venezuelans, who led 3-2 until the sixth inning.

In Mexico City, Cuba slammed a WBC record six home runs to open Pool B play with an 8-1 thrashing of South Africa and Australia stunned Mexico 17-7 (in eight innings), while in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic rebounded from a shock defeat to the Netherlands in their Pool D opener to throttle Panama 9-0.

Venezuela's sixth-inning collapse began with Victor Zambrano loading the bases then walking Mark DeRosa to bring across Youkilis with the tying run. Chris Iannetta, the next man to the plate, put the US in front with a three-run double off the wall, which was followed by a two-run double from Dustin Pedroia.

Youkilis then delivered the knockout punch, the Boston Red Sox first baseman taking Yoel Hernandez, Venezuela's third pitcher of the inning, over the wall in center for a 10-3 lead.

"We gave ourselves a chance to have a big innings," DeRosa told reporters. "Tonight was one of those nights where guys were capitalizing on big two-out knocks."

Venezuela chipped two runs off the US lead in the bottom of the sixth but Adam Dunn answered back in the top of the seventh with a leadoff homer, his second of the tournament.

The United States piled on three more runs in the eighth and Ryan Braun added a solo homer in the ninth.

It was another impressive display of power by the Americans, who slammed three home runs for the second straight game and ripped seven Venezuelan pitchers for 16 hits.

"As a manager this is what gets you really upset," said Venezuela manager Luis Sojo. "You want the bullpen to execute but that wasn't the case.

"When you get behind in the count in front of these major league players from the United States, you're always going to get this kind of consequence. We have to move on but this can't happen again."

Venezuela now await the winner of the game between Canada and Italy to set up a showdown for the second ticket out of the first round.

In Mexico City, Chris Snelling homered twice and Ben Risinger hit a three-run shot as Australia powered past Mexico. The game was stopped after eight innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.


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