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Baseball: Italians, Dominicans win WBC openers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Anthony Rizzo smacked a two-run double in the ninth inning as European champions Italy opened Pool D in the World Baseball Classic with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Mexico on Thursday.

Mexican outfielder Edgar Gonzalez allowed the runners to score after he bobbled Rizzo's flyball in front of a crowd of 4,478 at Salt River Fields stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Robinson Cano hit a pair of doubles and drove in three runs as the Dominican Republic routed Venezuela 9-3 in their Pool C opening-round game Thursday in Puerto Rico.

In Scottsdale, Rizzo belted his double off Sergio Romo, who is the closing pitcher for the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Jorge Cantu hit a bases-loaded double to right field to give Mexico a 3-2 lead in the first inning after Alex Liddi's two-run single had put Italy ahead.

Mexico's Ramiro Pena added a run-scoring double in the second to boost Mexico's edge to 4-2, but Drew Butera blasted a two-run homer for Italy in the fourth to equalize at 4-4.

Luis Cruz put Mexico back on top 5-4 in the fifth with a line drive to centrefield scoring Eduardo Arredondo from second base.

Italy is trying to get out of the opening round of the WBC for the first time after being eliminated early in 2009 and 2006.

Jose Reyes had four hits and Hanley Ramirez blasted a home run for the Dominican Republic, who scored 23 runs in two exhibition games leading up to the tournament.

The Dominicans scored five times in the first two innings then put the game out of Venezuela's reach with three more runs in the seventh in a game that lasted three hours and 55 minutes.

The game was delayed for 50 minutes because of rain. Once the rain stopped the players had to wait several more minutes because the umpires couldn't find the game balls.

Host United States and Canada are set to begin their play on Friday. Two teams from each group advance to the second round at Miami, Florida next week.

Canada starts their Pool D play against Italy while the Americans face Mexico.

Meanwhile, Canadian infielder Brett Lawrie pulled out of the event on Thursday because of a strained left rib cage.

Lawrie got hurt while fielding a ball at third base during Team Canada's exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.

gph/rcw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130308/baseball-italians-dominicans-win-wbc-openers