Israel rallies past Cuba to improve to 4-0 at WBC

TOKYO -- Israel took advantage of timely hits and solid pitching Sunday to beat Cuba 4-1 and improve to 4-0 in the World Baseball Classic.

Alfredo Despaigne put Cuba up 1-0 with a solo home run in the second inning at Tokyo Dome, but Israel tied the game in the fourth on a double by Ryan Lavarnway that scored Ike Davis from first.

Team Israel took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Zach Borenstein singled to right, scoring Ty Kelly from second base. Blake Gailen made it 3-1 with a two-out double to right that scored Nate Freiman.

"We didn't light up the scoreboard today, but we were able to get the timely hits when we needed them," Borenstein said. "Things are just clicking for us right now."

Israel tacked on another run in the eighth on a sacrifice bunt by Gailen that scored Borenstein from third.

Starter Jason Marquis gave up one run on four hits over 5⅔ innings. Zach Thornton picked up the win after coming on in the sixth and recording four outs.

"I had a little more left in the tank, but it was the right time to take me out," Marquis said. "The bullpen did a great job and hopefully we can keep it going and get the win tomorrow."

Josh Zeid pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth when he got William Saavedra to ground out to third with two out and finished the game for the save.

Israel will face the Netherlands on Monday looking to maintain its perfect record. In their previous game in the first round in Seoul, Israel beat the Netherlands 4-2.

The top two teams in the second round advance to the March 20-22 championship round at Dodger Stadium.

Israel's team is made up almost entirely of Jewish-American players who have major and minor league experience. The team has created a stir in the WBC, but manager Jerry Weinstein was quick to put things in perspective.

"We are basically 0-0; these four games don't really mean anything," Weinstein said. "What is important is tomorrow's game, which we have to take one pitch at a time. We have to play well tomorrow to give ourselves a chance to move on."

In other action, Sho Nakata drove in two runs with a single in the 11th inning as Japan beat the Netherlands 8-6 to improve to 4-0.

Under the tournament's tiebreak rule, the 11th inning started with runners at first and second base. Seiya Suzuki bunted to advance the runners and set up Nakata's clutch hit to left field.

Japan took a 5-1 lead in the third inning, but the Netherlands tied it with four runs in the bottom of the frame, including a two-run homer by Wladimir Balentien.

Also Sunday, Welington Castillo hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the Dominican Republic's seven-run 11th inning, sending his country to a 10-3 victory over Colombia in their final pool game.

The defending champions, who were coming off a dramatic 7-5 victory over the United States on Saturday night, advanced to the second round Tuesday in San Diego. The Dominicans have won 11 straight in the tournament.

Jose Bautista and Carlos Santana began the 11th as the designated runners at second and first base, part of the tournament tiebreaking rules. Mel Rojas Jr. advanced Bautista and Santana with a sacrifice bunt. Gregory Polanco was walked intentionally before Castillo sent a line drive into left-center off William Cuevas.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.