Canada suffers first loss of Games

Updated: August 20, 2004, 10:04 PM ET

ATHENS, Greece -- The chance to beat up on the weaker squads for Team Canada is over.

The Canadians absorbed their first setback of the Olympic baseball tournament Friday, a 9-1 loss to medal contender Japan.

Japanese starter Tsuyoshi Wada struck out seven over seven scoreless innings to move his nation into a tie with Canada atop the preliminary standings at 4-1.

The top draft pick of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in the 2003 Japanese Professional Baseball draft, Wada held the Canadians to three hits and three walks en route to his first win of the tournament.

Yoshinobu Takahashi had two hits, including a two-run homer in the first inning, and three RBI for Japan, which scored in each of the first five innings.

Kazuhiro Wada hit a two-run homer and Yoshitomo Tani added a solo shot for the Japanese.

"They outhit us, outpitched us and outdefended us," said former major leaguer Danny Klassen, who drove in Canada's only run in the ninth with a single.

Right-hander Mike Johnson gave up seven runs and six hits, including three homers, in four innings to take the loss for Team Canada.

"They're a good fastball team and when you leave fastballs over the plate, they're going to make you pay for it," Johnson said.

Canada had outscored its opponents 25-3 over the first four games of the Olympics.

"We know we're a good team," Klassen added. "We just happened to have a bad day. I think we can use this as a motivator rather than something to get down on."

The road out of the preliminary round does not get any easier for Team Canada, which faces Cuba (3-1) on Saturday.

The 2000 silver medalist, Cuba could force a three-way tie atop the standings with a win over the Netherlands on Friday night.

Elsewhere, Italy (1-4) rallied with two runs in the top of the ninth inning to edge Chinese-Taipei, 5-4. The Asians fell to 2-3.

Australian (2-2) is also in late action vs. Greece (0-4).