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Crucial game between Cuba and Canada

Just a few hours before the crucial game between Cuba and Canada giving entry to the baseball finals of these 28th Olympic Games, a look at the latest statistics indicates the possibilities of each of the teams involved in the quarterfinals.

The Cubans, directed by Higinio Vйlez, have attained a high level in all aspects of the game, which ratifies their condition as favorites to recoup the title. They came second in offense with 311, third in defense with 982, and leader in the important area of pitching, in which they worked for 2.14 clean runs per game of nine innings.

The Cubans’ adversary tonight at 19:30 in Athens (12:30 here) has batted very little in the seven preliminary challenges, only 235, secured best fielding (987) and came second to the Cuban pitchers with an average of 2.18 in clean runs, according Granma International.

Cuba's victory wasn't safe until left fielder Frederich Cepeda caught a fly by Kevin Nicholson at the wall. The Canadians scored two runs in the top of the ninth and had runners on second and third when it ended.

Ryan Radmanovich homered off reliever Pedro Luis Lazo leading off the ninth. Todd Betts singled and scored on a passed ball by Cuban catcher Ariel Pestano, pulling the Canadians to 8-5 with two outs. Reliever Danny Betancourt went 3 1-3 innings for the win, allowing two runs on two hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Starter Adiel Palma was chased in the fifth after giving up two runs as the Canadians took a 3-2 lead.

Pestano and Eduardo Paret each drove in two runs for Cuba, which has won 19 straight world titles and Olympic gold medals in 1992 at Barcelona and 1996 at Atlanta. The Cubans were favored again in Athens after the United States failed to qualify, reports San Francisco Chronicle.

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