TORONTO // The United States flexed their muscles and hit three home runs - including a two-run homer by Adam Dunn - to edge Canada 6-5 in their World Baseball Classic opener on Saturday. After being knocked out in the second round of the inaugural Baseball Classic in 2006, the US arrived here eager to erase that embarrassment. But the victory did not come before Canada had sent another scare through the US dugout, battling back from 6-3 down to turn the contest into a nail-biter.
With a raucous crowd of 42,314 on their feet from the start of the ninth inning, Canada managed to reduce the US lead to 6-5. The Americans, however, would not be denied, the New York Mets closer JJ Putz getting Justin Morneau to ground out and Jason Bay to fly out to right to end the game. The American gave a display of their power in the fourth when Kevin Youkilis opened the inning with a solo shot and Brian McCann followed with a two-run blast giving the US a 4-2 lead they would never surrender.
Dunn crushed a two-run homer for the US, who will now play the winners of Italy and Venezuela while Canada will face the losers. "We owed them a payback. We want to redeem what we did three years ago and I think we did a good job doing that," the US manager Davey Johnson said. "They've got a heck of a line up. Our guys did a good job holding them down." Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic were surprisingly beaten 3-2 by the Netherlands in a Pool D clash in Puerto Rico.
In Tokyo, the holders Japan crushed the Olympic champions South Korea 14-2 in seven innings. * Reuters