TOKYO — Kalian Sams' ninth-inning sacrifice fly scored Andruw Jones with the winning run, capping a comeback from a two-run eighth-inning deficit and lifting the Netherlands past Cuba 7-6 Monday and into the World Baseball Classic semifinals.
The Netherlands, the first European team to reach the final four, advanced along with two-time defending champion Japan. At the semifinals in San Francisco on March 17-18, they will be joined by two teams from among the United States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Italy.
"This game will go down as the biggest game in Dutch history," Netherlands manager Hensley Muelens said. "To come back like that after being down in the eighth is amazing."
The Dutch had beaten Cuba 6-2 in the opening game of the second round.
"I told the guys before the game the better team will win, and tonight the better team won," Muelens said. "The guys were resilient and stayed together, and that's why we won."
Cuba went ahead 6-4 in the eighth when Shairon Martis walked Frederich Cepeda, Yasmany Tomas had a one-out RBI single off Leon Boyd and Eriel Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly.
Kalian Sams walked on four pitches from Norberto Gonzalez leading off the bottom half and, after two strikeouts, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons homered to left on a 2-and-1 pitch.
MORE WBC: Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez will start for the United States in its opener of round two tonight against Puerto Rico. … Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is healed from a strained calf muscle, opted not to join the Dominican Republic for the second round.
GREINKE OUT: Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke was scratched from his spring training start and went to Los Angeles to have his sore right elbow examined. Greinke threw a bullpen session Friday without issue, then felt discomfort while throwing Sunday.
CARDINALS: Manager Mike Matheny had surgery to repair a ruptured disc in his lower back. He's expected to be back at spring training for Thursday's game against the Braves in Jupiter.
INDIANS: Former Rays All-Star left-hander Scott Kazmir had another strong outing, allowing three hits and a walk and striking out four over four scoreless innings against the Angels. Kazmir, 29, has pitched 11 shutout innings this spring.
MARLINS: Outfielder Christian Yelich, the team's top position prospect, hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth during an 8-7 victory over the Red Sox and improved to .375 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 14 spring games. Yelich topped out at Class A Jupiter last season. … Outfield prospect Jake Marisnick is expected to be sidelined four weeks with a broken left hand.
NATIONALS: Right-hander Stephen Strasburg agreed to a $3.9 million, one-year deal, representing the maximum 20 percent cut allowed under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
ORIOLES: Right-hander Chris Tillman said his abdominal soreness was better a day after he was scratched from his scheduled start.
RED SOX: Left-handed reliever Franklin Morales, who has had lower back pain, is likely to start the season the disabled list, manager John Farrell told mlb.com.
TIGERS: Shortstop Jhonny Peralta was scratched after having an allergic reaction to clam chowder. Manager Jimmy Leyland said Peralta didn't know it was clam chowder until he ate it.