USA opens World Cup finals with victory

USA opens World Cup finals with victory

Team USA opened the finals of the International Baseball Federation World Cup with a rousing 6-3 victory over Venezuela in Firenze, Italy on Tuesday.

It was one of four games on the day. In the other games played elsewhere in Italy on Tuesday, Cuba defeated Australia, 2-1, The Netherlands upended Chinese Taipei, 11-2, and Canada whitewashed Puerto Rico, 3-0.

As pool play continues on Wednesday, Puerto Rico faces Team USA at Firenze, Canada meets Venezuela at Chieti, Australia opposes The Netherlands at Grosetto, and Chinese Taipei plays Cuba at Nettuno.

At Firenze on Tuesday, the U.S. scored four runs in the third inning to avenge its only loss of this particular tournament against Venezuela. Terry Tiffee's two-run single off reliever Jose Escalona was the big blow of the inning. Pedro Alvarez homered in the fourth to make it, 5-0. Brad Lincoln pitched 6 2/3 innings for the U.S. to get the win.

At Nettuno, Canada's Brett Lawrie hit a leadoff home run in the ninth inning and Rene Tosoni followed with a two-run double, snapping a scoreless tie and sending the Canadians on to victory. Nick Bucci pitched five no-hit innings for Canada, as it held a veteran Puerto Rico squad to just one hit -- a Jose Valentin leadoff single in the seventh inning.

In Messina, the Dutch had a seven-run fifth inning, breaking open a close game against Chinese Taipei. It was still 4-1 when the Dutch sent 11 men to the plate in the fifth, scoring seven runs on eight hits -- seven singles and a double. Former Major Leaguer Randall Simon's three hits and three RBIs paced The Netherlands' attack.

Cuba and Australia played the closest game of the day. Cuba's Alfredo Despaigne hit a two-run first-inning home run off of Dushan Ruzic as Cuban pitchers Norge Vera and Pedro Lazo combined to hold Australia to six hits. Australia, which scored its only run in the third on a James Bereford groundout, held the Cubans to three hits.

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