(Reuters) - The Dominican Republic edged Caribbean neighbors Puerto Rico 2-0 in Miami on Saturday to complete an unbeaten run to the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic as top seeds.
The victory gave the Dominicans (6-0) a day off before they meet the Netherlands in the semi-finals on Monday at AT&T Park in San Francisco, venue for the final round of the 16-team international tournament.
Puerto Rico will return to the diamond on Sunday in San Francisco to face defending champions Japan, winners of the first two WBC titles in 2006 and 2009.
The championship game will be on Tuesday at AT&T Park, home of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Catcher Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians, crushed a long home run to lead off the fifth inning and Pittsburgh Pirates lefty Wandy Rodriguez pitched six innings of two-hit ball to earn the win for the Dominican Republic.
Puerto Rico squandered a good chance to score in the third when Irving Falu was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice grounder to Dominican shortstop Erick Aybar of the Los Angeles Angels.
Aybar also made a heads-up play in the eighth on a fielder’s choice grounder, helping to quell a Puerto Rico threat by getting Martin Maldonado at third base to short-circuit a rally.
The shortstop was in the middle of the action in bottom of the eighth as well, singling with one out, reaching third on Robinson Cano’s single and scoring on a two-out single by Francisco Pena for an insurance run.
Fernando Rodney, the Tampa Bay closer, pitched the ninth for his fifth save of the Classic.
The game drew over 25,000 fans to Marlins Park for a total of more than 153,000 for the six games in Pool 2 play in Miami.
Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Gene Cherry