SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — 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.
Puerto Rico (2-0) eliminated the Venezuelans (0-2), who began the tournament as a top contender with stars such as Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Gonzalez.
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.