San Juan. One of the big favorites considered to win the 2013 World Baseball Classic will have to go home after the first round. Venezuela also lost its second game in Pool C on Saturday evening. Puerto Rico prevailed in a close contest by a score of 6-3. It was the second win in as many games for the host of the first-round group at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Venezuela actually had the better start, when San Francisco Giants teammates Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval drove in a pair of runs with a single and a double in the third. A third run would have been possible as well, but Asdrubal Cabrera got thrown out at the plate by Alexis Rios.
Puerto Rico converted this defensive momentum into something productive on offense. Mike Aviles tied the game in the top of the fourth with a two-run single. One inning later Angel Pagan gave Puerto Rico a 3-2 advantage with another RBI single.
Following two scoreless innings, Puerto Rico added three insurance runs in the top of the eighth thanks to a sac fly by Mike Aviles and Luis Figueroa’s two-run double.
Venezuela threatened to rally in the ninth, when Martin Prado made it 3-6 with a one-out RBI double. But Fernando Cabrera came in and shut the door by striking out Miguel Montero and forcing Omar Infante into a pop out to second to end the game.
Nelson Figueroa (W, 1-0) received the win, allowing two runs on five hits in four solid innings. Giovanni Soto and J.C. Romero bridged the gap to the ninth, when Fernando Cabrera came in and closed it out for the save.
Carlos Zambrano had gotten the start for Venezuela. He issued one hit, two runs and two walks in 3 2/3 innings, striking out two. Henderson Alvarez (L, 0-1) got charged with the loss in relief.
Puerto Rico now faces the Dominican Republic on Sunday to determine first place in Pool C. Both teams will advance to the second round, which will be played in Miami, Florida from March 12. Venezuela closes out the 2013 World Baseball Classic against Spain. Both teams miss the second round.