Italy mercy-rules Canada to improve to 2-0 in WBC

Italy's Chris Colabello celebrates with teammates after hitting

Italy's Chris Colabello celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run home run during the third inning against Canada. (March 8, 2013) (Credit: AP)

PHOENIX - Chris Colabello drove in four runs with four hits, including a three-run homer, and surprising Italy routed Canada 14-4 on Friday to improve to 2-0 in Group D competition at the World Baseball Classic.

Italy scored eight runs after Canada cut the lead to 6-4 in the top of the seventh. It's the first time in the three World Baseball Classics that Italy has won two games. Italy opened play with a ninth-inning rally to beat Mexico 6-5 on Thursday night.

The game was called under the tournament's "mercy rule" after Italy scored five times in the eighth to make it a 10-run game. Italy beat Canada for its lone victory in the 2009 Classic.

The Italian team plays the United States on Saturday night. Canada (0-1) plays Mexico Saturday afternoon.

Starter Alessandro Maestri, who pitched in Japan last season after five seasons in the Chicago Cubs organization, got the victory, going three-plus innings, allowing a run on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk.

Canadian starter Shawn Hill allowed two runs in 2 2-3 innings to get the loss -- although the real damage came off the man who relieved him, Scott Mathieson, who gave up four runs on five hits in 1 1-3 innings.

With the game tied at 1-1, Anthony Granato singled and Nick Punto walked to start the third. It looked like Canada might escape the jam when Chris DeNorfia of the San Diego Padres grounded sharply into a double play, leaving a runner at third and two outs.

Mathieson relieved Hill and walked Anthony Rizzo, then Alex Liddi's RBI single put Italy up for good 2-1. That brought up Colabello, who hit the first pitch over the wall in left to make it 5-1.

Down 6-2 in the top of the seventh, Canada loaded the bases with two outs, then Saunders singled in two runs to make it 6-4, but reliever Brian Sweeney came on to strike out pinch hitter Tim Smith and end the inning.

Italy, the reigning European champion, answered with three in its half of the seventh, all of the damage coming after two outs. Colabello singled and Mike Costanzo walked, then a broken-bat RBI single by Mario Chiarini made it 7-4. Butero's double added two more runs, then the Italians got another on Punto's double, followed by Chris DeNorfia's RBI single in the eighth.

Italy sent seven batters to the plate without an out in the eighth to bring it to a merciful end.

The four-run third was the biggest inning for Italy in its WBC history. Colabello, who played for Double-A New Britain last season after seven years in the independent CanAm League, is the first player for Italy to have three RBIs in a World Baseball Classic game.

The game had been scheduled for Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, spring training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, but was moved to Chase Field in downtown Phoenix because of rain. Chase has a retractable roof.

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