HAVANA -- Jeff Ware threw a six-hitter at the Dominican Republic yesterday, as the United States began its final quest for an Olympic berth with a 6-1 victory in the Pan American Games.
With the middle of the order going 0-for-12, No. 6 hitter Craig Wilson led a bottom of the lineup that combined for eight hits and four RBI.
Much to the Cuban fans' disappointment, however, the only home runs came in batting practice.
The U.S. display wasn't anything like Cuba's powerful performance the previous night, when the host team hit seven tape-measure homers in a 14-6 victory over Nicaragua.
But U.S. baseball coach Ron Polk, whose team split six games with Cuba this summer, said he wasn't concerned.
"They have the depth to win this tournament," Polk said of the hosts. "But I think they are very concerned about 'Estados Unidos.' "
The U.S. squad solved junkballer Alejandro Madera with a three-run third inning, ignited by Chris Wimmer's leadoff double.
Wilson led off the fourth with a double and scored on Dan Melendez's single to right.
Chris Gomez's line drive up the middle in the fourth made it 5-0 and chased Madera.
"The left-hander they started should be outlawed," Polk said. "He's just throwing 76, 77 breaking balls. He's tougher on a good hitting ballclub. We had a hard time and I didn't know if we were ever going to hit him.
"Thankfully, we got a couple of chink hits and a couple of key hits,"
The United States pulled away from a six-point halftime lead to beat Venezuela, 91-66.
"Once again we had trouble getting started," coach Gene Kead said. "When we did get untracked we played well. I guess we could be called lethargic. The rebounding hurt us early, but we played well from the middle of the game on."
All 12 players scored for the Americans, including Maryland's Walt Williams, who was 1-for-6 from the field, including 1-for-5 from three-point territory, and finished with three points.
Jim Jackson led the United States with 18 points. Christian Laettner had 15 and five rebounds.
Steve Snow scored with five minutes left to lift the United States past Surinam, 1-0. The Surinam goalie made several saves, including one on a penalty kick, but could not stop Snow's winning kick.
The United States beat Barbados, 3-0, on victories by Sean O'Neill of McLean, Va., Jim Narotan of Iowa City, Iowa, and Dhiren Narotan of Ames, Iowa.
Bill Olson's two-out single broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning and the United States added four runs in the seventh for a 6-1 win over Argentina. Trent Rubley and Steve King had home runs.