Dominican Republic beats Puerto Rico 2-0 in WBC

MIAMI — As a reward for their latest victory, the Dominicans get a World Baseball Classic rematch against the team that eliminated them in 2009.

Wandy Rodriguez pitched six innings, and three relievers completed a three-hitter to help the unbeaten Dominican Republic top Puerto Rico 2-0 Saturday.

Both teams had already qualified for the semifinals in San Francisco, and the game merely determined seedings. Puerto Rico plays two-time defending champion Japan on Sunday night, and the Dominicans face the Netherlands on Monday night, with the winners advancing to the championship game Tuesday.

The Dominicans were eliminated from the 2009 WBC when they lost twice to the Netherlands in a stunning first-round upset.

“We’re not thinking of the past; we’re thinking of the present,” Dominican manager Tony Pena said. “They’re going to be tough. We’re going to be tough also.”

Puerto Rico will face Japan for the first time.

“They’re the two-time champions of the WBC for a reason,” Puerto Rican manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “They know how to play the game, and they put a lot of emphasis on the little things. We’ll have to play an almost perfect game.”

The Caribbean carnival that provided a soundtrack all week reached a crescendo on the final day in Miami, with the steady beat of drums and the bleat of air horns from a crowd of 25,846.

“This was like the World Series,” said Dominican second baseman Robinson Cano, who was selected the most valuable player for the second round in a row. “It was a great atmosphere.”

Rodriguez (1-0) allowed two hits and departed with a 1-0 lead. He retired all five batters he faced with runners in scoring position, and the Puerto Ricans finished 0 for 8 in those situations.

Carlos Santana broke a scoreless tie for the Dominicans with his second home run in the fifth inning.

Fernando Rodney gave up a hit for the first time but earned his fifth save, extending his WBC record. Dominicans relievers lowered their ERA to 2.01, and the team improved to 6-0 in the tournament.

“This is a triumph for all Dominicans anywhere in the world,” said Cano, who went 1 for 4 and is batting .417 in the tournament.

“We are a small nation, but with good foundation,” Santana said. “We have good ballplayers, and that is being proven here.”

The Puerto Ricans eliminated the United States on Friday but couldn’t get their bats going barely 12 hours later. Their lone hits were a single by Carlos Rivera in the third inning, a double by Luis Figueroa leading off the fourth and a double by Mike Aviles with two out in the ninth.

Their best threat came with the game scoreless in the third, when Irvin Falu reached third with one out. With the infield in, he was retired easily trying to score on a grounder to shortstop Erick Aybar.

Puerto Rican starter Orlando Roman (0-1) allowed two hits in five innings, but one was Santana’s. He pulled a 3-2 pitch into the second row of the upper deck in right field leading off the fifth.

Backup catcher Francisco Pena, who entered the game in the seventh, had a two-out RBI single in the eighth.

With both teams assured of moving on, the managers gave their starters some rest.

Rivera left the game in the third because of tightness in his left hamstring. Teammate Alex Rios, batting only 3 for 22 in the WBC, came out of the game in the fifth inning, and Dominicans Edwin Encarnacion and Hanley Ramirez departed after six innings.

Puerto Rican catcher Yadier Molina was given the day off, but he’ll be back in the lineup Sunday, when Mario Santiago is scheduled to start against Japan. Edinson Volquez will pitch for the Dominicans against the Netherlands.

“Hopefully,” Tony Pena said, “the title stays in the Caribbean.”

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