Baseball: Canada routs Mexico in fight-filled game

Michael Saunders went 4-for-4 and Justin Morneau drove in three runs as Canada routed Mexico 10-3 Saturday in a first-round World Baseball Classic game that included a ninth-inning brawl.

The wild scene involving Major League Baseball talent in the Group D contest came after Mexico pitcher Arnold Leon threw back-to-back pitches at Canada's Rene Tosoni with Canada leading 9-3.

Moments earlier, Canadian catcher Chris Robinson had bunted, which prompted Mexico third baseman Luis Cruz to tell Leon to throw at the next Canadian batter.

Leon then threw a pitch at the knees of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Tosoni that not only prompted Tosoni to say something to him but also resulted in a warning to Leon from the home plate umpire Brian Gorman.

On the very next pitch, Leon threw directly at Tosoni, hitting him in the ribs.

Tosoni walked towards the mound which inspired both teams to come onto the field. Heated words were exchanged before Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Cruz threw a punch at a Canadian player and the fight was on.

A couple of other separate fights then broke out, including one involving Mexican pitcher and Boston Red Sox player Alfredo Aceves, who absorbed a couple of hard punches to the head.

Canada pitching coach Denis Boucher was also hit in the face by a bottle thrown by Mexican fans who were standing behind the Canadian dugout.

Several police officers came onto the field and security officers moved through the pro-Mexican crowd of 19,581 at Chase Field, leading away a steady stream of Mexican fans who continued to yell and throw objects at Canadian players.

By the time play resumed, both Leon and Tosoni had been ejected.

Canada's victory ensured European champion Italy will advance to the second round even before its game later against the United States, which lost its opener to Mexico and will close round-robin play Sunday against Canada.

The Canadians took a 4-0 lead in the first inning on a run-scoring double by Morneau and a two-run single by Saunders, who stole second base and scored on Chris Robinson's line drive single to left field.

Mexico battled back, scoring once in the first on a throwing error by Canada's Joey Votto and adding two more runs in the fourth, one on a double by Gil Velazquez and the other on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Arredondo.

Canada stretched its lead to 5-3 in the sixth inning on a run-scoring single by Pete Orr.

In an earlier Group C contest at Puerto Rico, Carlos Santana smacked a home run and Robinson Cano went three-for-five to spark the Dominican Republic over Spain 6-3.

Santana and Nelson Cruz each drove in two runs for the Dominicans, who improved to 2-0 in round-robin play. They will take a second-round berth if Puerto Rico beats Venezuela later Saturday or by beating Puerto Rico on Sunday.

The Dominicans, featuring an all-star selection of major league talent, were ousted in the first round of the 2009 Classic and have something to prove now.

"I believe these guys are on a mission," Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena said. "They do not want to waste a single moment."

Cruz singled in the game's first run in the second inning, then took second base when the Spaniards tried to throw out Edwin Encarnacion at home plate and scored himself on a Ricardo Nanita single to double the Dominicans' lead.

The Dominican Republic made it 5-0 with three runs in the third inning. New York Yankee slugger Cano doubled in a run and scored himself on a Cruz single. Encarnacion walked and later scored on a Santana ground out.

The two top teams from each group advance to next week's second round at Miami. Two clubs will advance from Miami to join two from Tokyo in semi-finals March 17-18 at San Francisco, where the final will be played on March 19.