PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - The Netherlands has done a lot of travelling for the World Baseball Classic.
The journey started with a training camp in Arizona. Then the Dutch national team opened the international tournament in Taichung, Taiwan, flew to Tokyo for the second round and stopped in Arizona for a two exhibitions before they head to San Francisco for the WBC semifinals.
Andruw Jones hit a towering home run and the Netherlands defeated the San Diego Padres 9-3 Thursday night in their first exhibition. The Dutch will play against Seattle on Friday.
Few, if any, expected the Netherlands to rack up frequent-flyer miles. A first-round exit was realistic, and a second-round exit seemed certain in a pool with Japan, Chinese Taipei and Cuba.
The Netherlands kept on advancing, and these underdogs are now two wins from a WBC championship. Next up is a to-be-determined opponent in Monday's semifinal.
The Netherlands took Wednesday off to recover from jet lag, but got back to work Thursday with a focus that has carried the Dutch through tough times.
"We're not just happy to be here. We believe we can win this tournament," Netherlands manager and former major leaguer Hensley Meulens said. "We consistently have good at bats, we have excellent range in the field and we're aggressive on the base paths. If we can throw strikes, we can compete with anybody."
The Dutch showed a combination of defensive speed and gap power against the Padres, who fell behind early and never recovered.
Jones, a former major league outfielder who will play in Japan after the WBC, is the only big name on the roster. He went 2 for 2 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
After his homer in the second inning, he walked in the fourth and singled in the sixth.
"Andruw is our leader. The entire team takes their cue from him," Meulens said. "He hasn't been swinging for the fences. He's been focused on quality at bats and making solid contact, and the others are followed suit that's what makes us tough to play."
Padres starter Eric Stults allowed two runs and four hits and a walk over four innings. Stults, the team's No. 4 starter, has allowed two runs or more in four spring starts.
Shortstop Everth Cabrera was 2 for 3 and scored once as part of a San Diego lineup with several minor leaguers. Padres outfielder Jaff Decker had a home run and a double with two RBIs
NOTES: Los Angeles Dodgers P Kenley Jansen was added to the Netherlands' roster for the rest of the WBC. INF Jurickson Profar was also added to the roster, replacing Yurendell de Caster (plantar fasciitis). ... The Padres brought up 18-year old minor-league C Rodney Daal up for the exhibition. He was born in Amsterdam. ... With Italy eliminated from the WBC, Padres OF Chris Denorfia will come back to camp on Friday or Saturday. Padres manager Bud Black said he'll get a few days off afer playing so much during the WBC. ... Black expects CF Cameron Maybin (back) and RF Will Venable (side) to play on Friday in one of two split-squad contests.