Cuba became the first team to earn a spot in the World Baseball Classic semifinals with a 4-3 win over Australia on Wednesday.
Veteran international star Alfredo Despaigne broke a 1-1 fifth-inning tie against the Pool B runner-up with a sacrifice fly at Tokyo Dome, and Cuba held on to its lead to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2006.
Yoelkis Guibert's two-run single completed the three-run fifth, allowing the Cubans to survive Rixon Wingrove's two-run sixth-inning homer with the lead.
Cuba's Japan-based bullpen stars took over in the eighth. SoftBank Hawks lefty Livan Moinelo worked a scoreless eighth, and Chunichi Dragons closer Raidel Martinez earned the save in the ninth.
The second quarterfinal will be played at Tokyo Dome on Thursday between Pool B winner Japan and Pool A runner-up Italy. Shohei Ohtani will start on the mound for Japan.