U.S. beats Puerto Rico 7-1 in WBC

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U.S. beats Puerto Rico 7-1 in WBC

MIAMI - Gio Gonzalez pitched five scoreless innings as the United States beat Puerto Rico 7-1 in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday.

David Wright drove in five runs, the last three with a bases-loaded double in the eighth. That prompted chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” from the crowd of 32,872.

“Obviously the adrenaline gets pumping for this tournament,” Wright said. “You wear that uniform, you want to go out there and represent your country. Hitting in this lineup is ridiculous. You have some of the best hitters in the game, and it creates some matchup problems.”

The United States fell behind in all three games in the opening round, but led from the first inning against Puerto Rico.

The Americans will play Thursday night against the Dominican Republic, which remained unbeaten in the WBC by rallying past Italy 5-4 on Tuesday.

“It’s a marquee matchup,” U.S. manager Joe Torre said. “They haven’t lost. They’ve got some guys having some fun. They have a lot of confidence. But I feel good about my team.”

“If you go inside our clubhouse, everybody is up,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “We lost today. Turn the page. We concentrate on Wednesday.”

Gonzalez, who grew up in nearby Hialeah, struck out five for the hometown team and departed with a 3-0 lead. He said U.S. pitching coach Greg Maddux helped him keep from getting distracted by the importance of the game and the big crowd.

Five U.S. relievers combined to allow one run over the final four innings.

Wright had an RBI groundout in the third and a run-scoring single in the fifth. He’s 7 for 16 (.438) with 10 RBIs in four games.

Puerto Rico starter Mario Santiago allowed three runs in 4 1-3 innings. Angel Pagan’s drove in Puerto Rico’s run in the eighth.

Earlier Tuesday, Nelson Cruz’s two-out RBI single broke a seventh-inning tie, and the Dominican Republic overcame an early four-run deficit to beat Italy 5-4.

The Dominicans (4-0) remained unbeaten and advanced to a winner’s-bracket game Thursday night in the double-elimination second round.

Robinson Cano had three hits, including his second homer of the WBC with a drive off the upper-deck facade in right field. Jose Reyes also homered for the Dominican Republic.

Chris Colabello hit a three-run homer, his second, to give Italy a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

In Tokyo on Tuesday, Shinnosuke Abe homered twice in an eight-run second inning as two-time defending champion Japan beat the Netherlands 10-6 to wrap up first place in Pool 1 of the World Baseball Classic.

AP
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