Dominicans shock US with dramatic rally

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Nelson Cruz of the Dominican Republic hits a three run home run during the eighth inning against the United States in the World Baseball Classic

Nelson Cruz belted the go-ahead three run homer in the eighth inning as the Dominican Republic stormed back from a five-run deficit with a stunning 7-5 victory over the US in the World Baseball Classic.

Cruz and Starling Marte smashed back-to-back home runs on Saturday for the defending champion Dominicans who stretched their WBC winning streak to 10 games and moved another step closer to punching their ticket to the second round.

Cruz hit a towering blast off American pitcher Andrew Miller as the Americans dropped to 1-1 and are in jeopardy of being ousted in the opening round.

"Unbelievable," said Cruz. "I felt like a little kid playing in little league jumping around. I didn't know what to do."

Saturday's shocking collapse comes one day after the US survived an extra inning scare from lightly regarded Colombia.

The Americans' next opponent is Canada on Sunday in the global showdown of elite worldwide talent and Major League Baseball standouts.

The US needs a win over Canada or a loss by Colombia to keep its hopes alive. The Dominicans can advance to the next round with a win over Colombia.

Many of the USA's biggest names, such as Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Kris Bryant, decided to skip the tournament much to the dismay of manager Jim Leyland. Baseball's birthplace, the US, has never won the tournament.

Saturday's game was played in front of a raucous pro-Dominican crowd of 37,000 as US fans were far outnumbered at Marlins Park in southern Florida.

The US led 5-3 when Miller entered the contest in the eighth. He walked Jose Bautista, allowed a single by Carlos Santana, followed by Cruz's home run.

"We have so much talent. Even guys that are on the bench could be a starters on other teams," Cruz said.

Elsewhere, Venezuela's Jose Altuve singled and scored on a Martin Prado double in the 10th inning to give Venezuela a dramatic 11-10 victory over Italy.

Prado's line drive to centrefield produced the winning run and Venezuelan relief pitcher Jose Castillo retired Italian batters 1-2-3 in the 10th to secure the victory, leaving both teams 1-1 in the 16-team event.

Italy upset Mexico 10-9 while Venezuela was routed 11-0 by Puerto Rico in earlier games.

Salvador Perez smacked a two-run homer in the ninth to give Venezuela a 10-8 lead, but the Europeans battled back with two runs in the ninth to force extra innings.

In an earlier game Saturday in Miami, Donovan Solano drove in two runs and Colombia beat Canada 4-1.

Canada opened the scoring in the first inning when Freddie Freeman hit a line drive single to left field that scored Justin Morneau.

But Solano answered for Colombia in the third inning with a line drive single to left that scored his brother Jhonatan and again smacked a run-scoring single in the fifth to plate Tito Polo with the go-ahead run.