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Japan loses to Cuba

by Ed Odeven

BEIJING — Veteran poise carried Cuba to a 4-2 triumph over Japan in their 2008 Olympic opener on Wednesday night.

While Japan starting pitcher Yu Darvish, three days shy of his 22nd birthday, took the loss in the highly anticipated rematch of the teams that faced off in the 2006 World Baseball Classic championship game, 37-year-old right-hander Norge Luis Vera pitched six innings of two-run ball.

Fellow veteran Pedro Luis Lazo, a 35-year-old, four-time Olympian, worked three scoreless innings for the save.

“Cuba is just as I expected,” said Japan third baseman Shinya Miyamoto. “They are a very strong team and I hope that we will get another chance to play them.”