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U.S. pounds Australia; Cuba awaits

Bring on Cuba and warm up the scoreboard.

The United States homered its way to another victory Saturday night and headed into its long-awaited matchup with Cuba exactly the way it wanted: a medal-round berth clinched and a perfect record in hand.

The Americans hit five homers _ two by Jacque Jones _ for a 15-5 victory over Australia (1-4) that earned a spot in the medals round and set up the Olympic tournament's marquee game today.

Cuba and the United States are 5-0. The Cubans clinched a medal-round berth and tied the Olympic scoring record with a 20-6 drubbing of Italy. Cuba hit six home runs.

"It's definitely important to us," Cuban third baseman Omar Linares said. "Only one team can be in first place."

"It's an important game for both teams," Cuban manager Jorge Fuentes said. "They're expecting 50,000 people. We want to put on a good show."

Jones hit a two-run homer and Warren Morris had a three-run shot for a 7-1 lead after the first inning.

Mark Kotsay and Jones hit consecutive homers in the fourth for an 11-5 lead, and Troy Glaus hit a two-run homer into the upper deck in leftfield later in the inning. The shot was estimated at 481 feet, longest of the game.

Cuba's Orestes Kindelan, meanwhile, set an Olympic record with two more homers. He led off the second inning with a homer into the upper deck in leftfield at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, a drive measured at 502 feet. The homer was his fifth of the Games.

He hit his sixth into the middle deck in leftfield leading off the third inning for his 13th RBI of the tournament.

Cuba also had three-run homers from Jose Estrada, Antonio Scull and Miguel Caldes, whose shot glanced off the facing of the upper deck. Antonio Pacheco added a two-run homer.

With two games to go in the round-robin tournament, Italy (2-3) still is in contention for one of the four medal-round berths.

In other action, Japan (2-3) stayed in contention for a medal-round berth by hitting four homers _ two in a six-run first inning _ in a 13-6 victory over Nicaragua (3-2).

Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit a three-run homer and Tomoaki Sato had a two-run shot off Fredy Corea as Japan took a 6-0 lead in the first. Yoshitomo Tani added a two-run homer in the second.