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Team USA shows power in World Cup

Team USA shows power in World Cup

Action heated up Thursday in the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Baseball World Cup's second round, with the American team continuing its tournament-long power surge.

The U.S. team, paced by Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Pedro Alvarez's American World Cup record three home runs, blasted the club from Chinese Taipei, 14-3. Team USA hit six homers in the game, tying its World Cup mark set against Spain in 1988 and 2007, and the American team has now hit a tournament-best 22 home runs, led by Texas Rangers prospect Justin Smoak's six.

On Thursday at Stadio Paschetto inTorino, Italy, Alvarez connected on one homer in each of the first two innings and drove in six runs as the U.S. team jumped out to a 14-0 lead and snapped Chinese Taipei's three-game, second-round win streak. The USA hit six homers in total against five Chinese Taipei pitchers -- also a Team USA record -- and Atlanta Braves Minor Leaguer Todd Redmond went six innings to earn his second win of the World Cup.

Minor Leaguers Jon Weber (Tampa Bay), Terry Tiffee (Phillies) and Buck Coats (Toronto) each added an RBI in the seven-run first inning, and Tiffee and Dodgers prospect Lucas May added solo shots in the fourth. The game was stopped in accordance with the IBAF 10-run rule.

Team USA, which improved to 6-1 in the tournament and 4-0 in the second round, will face Australia on Friday at Stadio De Benedetti in Piacenza, Italy. Angels prospect Trevor Reckling (1-0) is the scheduled U.S. starter.

Elsewhere around the tournament, Cuba stayed undefeated, beating Spain, 10-0, to improve its tournament record to 7-0. Yulieski Gourriel and Ariel Pestano homered to support starter Miguel Gonzalez, who pitched seven innings for the victory.

The Netherlands rapped out 13 hits and beat Venezuela, 8-5, with San Francisco Giants prospect Sharlon Schoop and Angels Minor Leaguer Hainley Statia contributing RBI singles.

Team Canada only accounted for two hits against Japan, but the Canadians scored twice on a throwing error and won, 3-2, in 11 innings in Bologna. Milwaukee Brewers prospect Brett Lawrie's RBI single had tied the game at one in the bottom of the sixth, but Japan came back to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the 11th on a Ryo Saeki RBI single before the Canadian rally in the bottom half of the inning.  Lawrie's Double-A teammate, Jimmy Henderson, pitched the final three innings to get the win for Canada.

Puerto Rico almost fell victim to the surprising Great Britain team but rallied for a 5-4 win highlighted by former big leaguer Alex Cintron's go-ahead RBI single.

In another near-upset, Mexico rallied from an early six-run deficit and hung on for a 9-8 win over The Netherlands Antilles club in San Marino. The Netherland Antilles' Ulrich Snijders hit a grand slam in the first inning, but Team Mexico chipped away and took the lead in the fifth inning on a two-run double by Cristian Presichi and an RBI single by Jesus Cota.

Pirates Minor Leaguer Chris Snelling's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth powered Australia to a 5-4 win over host Italy, which remained winless in the tournament after a game in Parma.

And South Korea scored six runs in the fifth inning to rally past Nicaragua for a 7-2 win.

Second-round play, consisting of 16 teams, will last until Sunday. Team USA is situated in Group G, along with Italy, Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Mexico and Netherlands Antilles.

The top eight teams in the second round will advance to the third and final round, which runs Sept. 22-27, exclusively in Italy.

Doug Miller is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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