World Baseball Classic: Puerto Rico 4, Italy 3: Rios' dash keeps Puerto Rico alive

2013-03-14T00:00:00Z World Baseball Classic: Puerto Rico 4, Italy 3: Rios' dash keeps Puerto Rico aliveThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

MIAMI - With the score tied and two outs, Puerto Rico's Alex Rios kept running from second base.

Rios scored the go-ahead run without a play, and the Puerto Ricans rallied to oust Italy from the World Baseball Classic with a 4-3 victory Wednesday night.

The Puerto Ricans went hitless in their first 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position but still overcame a 3-0 deficit to score once in the sixth inning and three times in the eighth.

"With the lineup we had, it was a matter of time before we started scoring," Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Everybody was putting a little pressure on themselves. The coaching staff had to take it and make it seem like we were calm."

Rios crossed the plate standing up for the final run on a grounder to the shortstop, which Jack Santora backhanded before throwing wide to first.

That was one of four misplays by Italian shortstops, including three in the sixth by Anthony Granato, who allowed an unearned run to score and was then replaced by Santora.

"We had problems scoring runs, but we were putting pressure on them," Rodriguez said. "The breaks went our way, and we took advantage of them."

Yadier Molina had three hits for the Puerto Ricans and scored their first run.

"We are only in March," Molina said, "and you're facing pitchers throwing 95 and 96 mph. You see it on a daily basis. I looked for my hits, and the team followed me."

The Italians blew a 4-0 lead in a loss Tuesday to the Dominican Republic.

"It was the end of the road for us," Granato said. "That's always disappointing when something like this happens. Nobody likes to end it. You always want to be the last man standing. It didn't happen for us. It hurts but what can you do? That's the way it goes."

The Puerto Ricans advance to Friday's game against the winner of Thursday night's game between the United States and Dominican Republic. R.A. Dickey will start for the U.S. team, and Minnesota Twins right-hander Samuel Deduno starts for the Dominicans.

Hiram Burgos (1-0) pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings for Puerto Rico.

"We had faith as a team," Burgos said. "I tried to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win, and the batters did what they had to do."

Fernando Cabrera struck out Alex Liddi with a runner at first for his second save, and the Puerto Ricans poured out of their dugout, jubilant and relieved.

"There's a lot of emotion," Rodriguez said. "When you're playing for your nation, we know everybody is watching back home."

Italy's Anthony Rizzo broke a scoreless tie with a three-run double in the fifth, and Puerto Rico trailed 3-1 going into the bottom of the eighth.

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