WBC Roundup: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic advance
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Mike Aviles drove in three runs and Puerto Rico beat Venezuela 6-3 Saturday night to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
This result determined the two winners of Group C for the next phase in Miami. The Dominican Republic (2-0) also moved on with a win that eliminated Spain (0-2).
Venezuela arrived in San Juan with a loaded lineup that included Triple Crown winner Cabrera and World Series MVP Sandoval. But it scored only six runs in its first two games and did not make it past the first round for the first time in the three editions of the Classic.
The first round concludes on Sunday with a game between Venezuela and Spain, and the matchup between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to decide the winner of the group.
The Venezuelans got five of their seven hits against starter and winner Nelson Figueroa, but did little against relievers Giovanni Soto, J.C. Romero and Fernando Cabrera.
Figueroa got the win and Soto threw three perfect innings. Romero allowed a run in the ninth before Cabrera finished for his first save.
Puerto Rico broke open the game with three runs in the eighth for a 3-2 lead.
Alex Rios was hit by a pitch from losing pitcher Henderson Alvarez, and singles by St. Louis teammates Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina loaded the bases. Aviles hit a sacrifice and Luis Figueroa delivered a two-run double.
Omar Infante and Sandoval doubled as Venezuela took a 2-0 lead in the third.
The hosts tied it the fourth against starter Carlos Zambrano. Aviles hit a two-run single off Enrique Gonzalez.
Dominican Republic beats Spain, heads to second round
The Dominican team improved to 2-0 in Group C and advanced to the second round in Miami when Puerto Rico beat Venezuela 6-3 later Saturday.
Santana and Nelson Cruz each drove in two runs for the Dominican Republic. Edwin Encarnacion scored twice.
After 15 scoreless innings, Spain scored its first run of the tournament in the seventh and then added two in the ninth before Fernando Rodney shut the door.
"They never gave up,'' Cruz said. "There are no weak opponents in this Classic and we have to be on top of them all nine innings.''
Spain (0-2) was beaten for the second time in a row after losing to Puerto Rico 3-0 on Friday night.
Yoanner Negrin, one of seven Cubans on Spain's team, took the loss. He allowed five runs, four walks and three hits in 2 1-3 innings.
Encarnacion drew a leadoff walk in the second and scored on Cruz's single. Ricardo Nanita added an RBI single to make it 2-0.
A leadoff walk to Jose Reyes started the Dominican Republic's three-run third. Reyes went to third on a wild pickoff attempt by Negrin and scored on Cano's third double of the tournament. Cruz added an RBI single and Santana drove in a run with a bases-loaded groundout.
Santana hit a solo homer to right to make it 6-1 in the eighth.
Spain scored once in the ninth against Veras and had the bases loaded with two outs when the Houston Astros reliever was lifted for Rodney. He walked in a run before striking out Rafael Alvarez for the save.
"You could feel a bit of tension at the end, but we have a great closer and that's what we saw,'' Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena said.
The Dominican team concludes the first round Sunday against host Puerto Rico, while Spain faces Venezuela.