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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 22:41 GMT 23:41 UK
Baseball rivals win openers
Japan celebrate their win over Italy
Japan were a different class
Gold medal rivals Cuba and Japan started their Olympic baseball campaigns with comfortable victories.

Cuba had Adiel Palma to thank for pitching eight shut-out innings on their way to a 4-1 win over Australia.

Meanwhile, Japan cruised to an emphatic 12-0 win over Italy, with Norihiro Nakamura leading the charge collecting two hits and four RBIs.

The Asian side's starting pitcher Koji Uehara showed his class by throwing six scoreless innings.

Japan's manager was satisfied with the victory but remained cautiously optimistic about his team's gold medal chances.

"When we scored our second run, it boosted our confidence and helped us get into a rhythm. But we were nervous about the first game," said Kiyoshi Nakahata.

"The team was able to stay focused throughout the game. We're taking it one game at a time. There will always be a tough game ahead."

In the day's other games, Canada eased to a 7-0 win over Taiwan while the Netherlands silenced home fans with an impressive 11-0 victory over Greece.

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