PHOENIX - The country where hockey is king stole America's pastime on a chilly Arizona afternoon.
Adam Stern, a young backup outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, hit an inside-the-park homer, drove in four runs and made two sensational catches in center to lead Canada over the United States, 8-6 on Wednesday in the World Baseball Classic.
"We were definitely pumped up to play this team," Stern said.
Jason Varitek's 448-foot grand slam helped bring the United States back from an 8-0 deficit, but a Canadian team made up largely of minor leaguers held on.
"It's a very quiet locker room right now," U.S. manager Buck Martinez said. "I think everybody is feeling like they got kicked in the stomach."
Chase Utley thought he had given the United States the lead in the eighth, flipping his bat and raising both arms in triumph after he hit a long drive to center with two on. But Stern made a leaping catch at the wall near the 407-foot sign to end the inning.
"I thought Chase's ball was gone when he hit it," teammate Derek Jeter said. "I mean, he crushed that ball, but you've got to hit it pretty good to get it out in that part of the park."
A crowd of 16,993 fans at Chase Field alternated between booing America's futility and supportive chants of "U-S-A!"
The United States (1-1) must beat South Africa on Friday or have Mexico lose one of its remaining games to stay alive in the 16-nation tournament.
Canada (2-0), which had to rally in the ninth Tuesday night to beat South Africa 11-8, hit Dontrelle Willis hard and scored in each of the first five innings.
CUBA 8, PANAMA 6
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Cuba won its World Baseball Classic opener, but only after a ninth-inning meltdown.
Panama scored twice in the ninth to force extra innings, but pinch hitter Yoandy Garlobo had a tiebreaking single in the 11th that led the Cubans to a win.