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Cantu Leads Mexico Into 2nd Round

March 10, 2006

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Jorge Cantu homered and drove in three runs and Esteban Loaiza allowed a run in five-plus innings Thursday night as Mexico defeated Canada 9-1 to leave the U.S. team a win away from reaching the second round.

Erubiel Durazo also had three hits and Mario Valenzuela had a solo home run for Mexico, which dropped a 2-0 decision to the U.S. in the opening game of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday.

If the U.S. beats South Africa on Friday, it will advance to the second round due to a complicated three-way tiebreaker based on runs allowed. In this odd system, the United States would’ve been eliminated before it plays South Africa if Mexico had beaten Canada by scores of 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1.

Canada starter Jeff Francis retired the first two batters in the first inning, then drilled Vinny Castilla in the ribs with a fastball. Consecutive doubles by Durazo, Geronimo Gil, Luis Alfonso Garcia and Miguel Ojeda made it 4-0 as Francis struggled through the 26-pitch inning.

Cantu made it 6-0 in the second inning with a two-run homer to left center, scoring Luis Carlos Garcia, who had opened the inning with a double.

Loaiza, meanwhile, faced just two batters over the minimum in the first four innings and gave up his first hit in the fourth when Stubby Clapp beat out a slow roller to second.

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