Mexico needs to top Cuba to stay alive

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SAN DIEGO -- Team Mexico spent Sunday morning acting as goodwill ambassadors, praising the Cuban national team's offensive prowess in the World Baseball Classic.

On Monday night, the Mexicans will try to stymie it in a pivotal Pool 1 game at PETCO Park. The two teams were defeated by their opponents Sunday and will square off at 11 p.m. ET in an elimination game.

"We need to forget [Sunday's] game; we lost it. Let's accept it," Mexico starter Oliver Perez said. "[Monday] we have a very important game, and we still have an opportunity to move forward to play another game."

In Sunday's contest, Perez was charged with four runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings in the 8-2 loss to Korea. He allowed three home runs and walked two batters. Mexico scored twice in the second inning on a single to left field by shortstop Augie Ojeda

Japan defeated Cuba, 6-0, in Sunday's matinee. Japanese starter Daisuke Matsuzaka shut down the Cuban offense, striking out eight batters in six scoreless innings.

Jorge Campillo will take on Cuba, making his second start of the Classic. In his last outing, the right-hander allowed one run on six hits in 4 2/3 innings in a 16-1 victory against Australia last Wednesday in Mexico City.

"[The Cubans] play their hearts out -- pitching, defense, batting and everything," Mexico third baseman Jorge Cantu said. "Obviously, the circumstances of their country won't permit them to come here, but in terms of baseball instincts, they have it all. They play really hard. I wish they were here in the big leagues."

Mexico manager Vinny Castilla also gushed over the Cuban team this week.

"They're talented. They have running skills, good power. They've got good pitching," he said. "They've been playing together for a long time, and a lot of the players have big league talent. A lot of them can play in the big leagues right now."

The game will be a rematch of the two Latin American teams. Last week, Cuba defeated Mexico, 16-4, in Pool B play in Mexico City. The game was called after seven innings because of the mercy rule.

Mexico does not expect the same outcome this time around.

"We need to take the good and the bad," Perez said. "We need to be professional and [Monday] we'll be coming here with our very best."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.