PHOENIX -- Canada slipped on the edge of history, giving up a late lead and falling 9-4 to the United States on Sunday in a must-win game that eliminated the team from the World Baseball Classic.
Down 3-2 in the eighth inning, Adam Jones hit a two-run double off reliever Jim Henderson to give the U.S. its first lead of the game before Shane Victorino scored Jones on a single for a 5-3 lead.
Jonathan Lucroy added an insurance RBI and Eric Hosmer hit a three-run double off Canadian closer John Axford in the ninth.
Canada had pulled to within one after Adam Loewen hit a bases-loaded RBI in the bottom of the eighth inning, but pinch hitter Tim Smith grounded out to end the inning and ultimately Canada's tournament.
Canada controlled Sunday's game until Jones's hit, with Michael Saunders hitting a two-run homer in the second inning and Loewen's single putting Canada ahead 3-2 in the sixth.
But U.S. relievers Heath Bell, David Hernandez, Steve Cishek and closer Craig Kimbrel stifled Canada's offence while American batters did the rest.
Canada (1-2), which has never advanced past the first round, began the tournament with a humiliating 14-4 loss to Italy that ended after eight innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. But the team fought back, literally, in the second game against Mexico with a 10-3 victory capped by a bench-clearing brawl.
The victory is a relief for the U.S. (2-1), which opened the tournament with a 5-2 loss to Mexico (1-2) but rallied back with a 6-2 win over Italy (2-1), which also advanced. The next round begins Tuesday in Miami.
Canada didn't need long to figure out U.S. starter Derek Holland. In the second inning Justin Morneau hit a leadoff double on the first pitch he saw, then on the next at-bat Saunders launched a rocket to right field to give Canada a 2-0 lead.
For all the anticipation of Joey Votto's commitment to Canada, Saunders turned out to be the team's star -- named the most valuable player of Pool D.
-- The Canadian Press