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.
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, which eliminated Team USA, 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 second baseman Robinson 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.
Around the leagues
In Jupiter, Fla., Shawn Hill allowed one hit in four innings, and Matt Tuiasosopo hit a long homer to lead Detroit over St. Louis 3-0. Left-hander Jaime Garcia gave up all three runs and six hits in five innings for the Cardinals. Tigers closer candidate Bruce Rondon made his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance after struggling earlier this month.
In Phoenix, Joey Votto and Ryan Hanigan homered for Cincinnati’s split-squad team and minor leaguer Khris Davis connected twice for Milwaukee in a 9-all tie. Reds starter Mike Leake gave up 10 hits and seven runs – five earned – in 3 1/3 innings.
In Las Vegas, Jeff Samardzija scattered three hits over five scoreless innings in Chicago’s 5-1 split-squad win over Texas. Samardzija struck out three and walked one.
In Mesa, Ariz., Alfonso Soriano connected for one of three first-inning homer against Bruce Chen and a Chicago split squad beat Kansas City 8-3. David DeJesus led off the game with a homer to right field. One out later, Soriano hit his second of spring training. The 20-year-old Javier Baez followed with another long ball and also hit one in the fifth inning off Chen.
In Glendale, Ariz., Chris Sale had his worst start of the spring, giving up five runs and seven hits in five-plus innings, but a Chicago split squad roughed up former Norwell standout Jarrod Parker and Oakland in an 11-5 win.