By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer
YOKOHAMA, Japan — Triston Casas hit his third home run of the Olympics, a two-run drive in the first inning off Boston Red Sox Double-A teammate Denyi Reyes, and the United States beat the Dominican Republic, 3-1, on Wednesday to stay in gold medal contention.
Tyler Austin, a former major leaguer in his home ballpark of the Central League’s Yokohama Bay Stars, added a solo home run in the fifth, his second long ball of the tournament.
The U.S. (3-1) plays next on Thursday night, meeting the loser of Wednesday night’s Japan-South Korea matchup for a berth in this weekend’s gold medal game.
Scott Kazmir (1-0) escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first, and the 37-year-old left-hander went on to pitch two-hit ball over five scoreless innings.
Four relievers finished, with David Robertson allowing a two-out homer in the ninth to Charlie Valerio. The U.S., being coached by longtime Angels manager Mike Scioscia, was outhit 5-3 and overcame three errors and a 0-for-12 afternoon from its Nos. 6-9 batters.
Austin walked with one out in the first, and Casas drove a 1-1 pitch to center. He is batting .313 with eight RBIs.
A 21-year-old first baseman at Portland, Maine, Casas was the 26th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft. He is hitting .271 with six homers and 30 RBIs for the Sea Dogs this season.
Reyes (0-1), a 24-year-old right-hander, allowed two runs and two hits in four innings. He is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in two starts and 11 relief appearances at Portland.
Austin, who has a .412 average and five RBIs, homered to straightaway center against Gabriel Arias, a late addition to the Dominican roster.
Kazmir was starting on 16 days’ rest since facing a college all-star team in a July 18 exhibition in North Carolina. The three-time All-Star had a 6.43 ERA in two starts and a relief appearance this season for the San Francisco Giants, his first big league appearance in five years, then was sent outright to Triple-A Sacramento on June 11. He made three starts for the River Cats before reporting to the Olympic team.
On a broiling day with a 90-degree temperature at game time and high humidity, Kazmir threw 77 pitches, struck out five and walked one.
Brandon Dickson, a 36-year-old right-hander nine years removed from his last big-league appearance, pitched out of trouble in the sixth after Casas misplayed a grounder to first and second baseman Eddy Alvarez made a poor throw to second on another grounder for consecutive errors. Juan Francisco grounded into a double play and Johan Mieses popped out.
Scott McGough, a 31-year-old former Miami reliever who blew a save against Japan two nights earlier, got out of two-on trouble in the eighth when José Bautista took consecutive sliders and was called out by plate umpire Jair Fernández of Mexico, prompting complaints from the six-time All-Star.
Anthony Gose pitched a perfect eighth, and Robertson got his second save, walking Jeison Guzmán before striking Yefri Pérez.
Playing 14 hours after their ninth-inning comeback win over Israel, the Dominicans (2-3) started five switch-hitters and just one left-handed batter against Kazmir. They will play Thursday night’s loser for the bronze medal.
The Dominicans loaded the bases with one out in the first on Erick Mejia’s double, a dropped fly ball for an error by left fielder Patrick Kivelhan in his Olympic debut and a walk. Mieses grounded into a forceout at the plate, bringing up Melky Cabrera, who was 3 for 10 against Kazmir in his major-league career, with a home run for Kansas City against the Angels on April 11, 2011. Cabera bounced to Todd Frazier, who stepped on third for the inning-ending forceout.
Gustavo Núñez got hurt on a swing in the seventh and was pinch-hit for by Pérez.
More to come on this story.
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Author: The Associated Press