March 14, 2017

TOKYO (AP) Tetsuto Yamada hit two home runs to lead Japan to an 8-5 win over Cuba in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday.

Pinch hitter Seiichi Uchikawa broke a 5-5 tie on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and Yamada made it 8-5 with a two-run shot to center field at Tokyo Dome.

Yamada also hit a leadoff homer in the first inning.

''I wasn't pleased with my batting in the first four games,'' Yamada said. ''I was determined to do better today. I felt good in batting practice and felt this could be my day.''

Two-time champion Japan improved to 2-0 in Pool E and can advance to the March 20-22 championship round in Los Angeles with a win over Israel (1-1) on Wednesday. The top two teams in the group advance.

The Netherlands (1-1) faces Cuba (0-2) in Wednesday's other game.

Cuba took a 4-2 lead in the fourth on Victor Mesa's single to left. Japan tied it in the fifth on RBIs by Norichika Aoki and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.

Each team scored a run in the sixth.

Tsutsugo also had a big game at the plate for Japan. His three hits in his first three at-bats included game-tying singles in the third and fifth innings.

Japan, which finished third at the 2013 WBC, improved to 5-0 including first round games and will be looking to head to the semifinals in Los Angeles on a winning note.

''We have some regrets from the last tournament,'' Uchikawa said. ''So we'll be looking to win tomorrow's game and go to the U.S. undefeated.''

Even a win over the Dutch wouldn't guarantee the Cubans a chance to move on. They will need to wait for the result of the Japan-Israel game.

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