MIAMI – Horns honked, percussion pulsed and school kids squealed. Miami can make quite a din when the Dominicans win.
The visiting team on the scoreboard, the Dominican Republic made itself at home by beating the United States 3-1 Thursday night to earn a berth in the final round of the World Baseball Classic.
Pinch-hitter Erick Aybar singled home the go-ahead run in the ninth for the Dominicans, who improved to 5-0. Theyre assured of a spot in the semifinals beginning Sunday in San Francisco, where two-time defending champion Japan and the Netherlands have advanced.
The United States must now play Puerto Rico on Friday night, with the winner earning a trip to San Francisco and the loser being eliminated.
Playing the U.S. team for the first time ever in the WBC, the Dominicans drew raucous support all night, especially in a noisy ninth.
With the score 1-all, Nelson Cruz led off with a double against Craig Kimbrel (0-1), then took third on a groundout. Aybar singled sharply and ran to first with his index finger raised as his teammates poured out of the dugout to greet Cruz crossing the plate.
Until Aybars hit, the Dominicans were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Cardinals’ manager back after surgery
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny returned to the club Thursday after undergoing back surgery Monday in St. Louis.
Matheny was best with severe pain for several days, stemming from a ruptured disc in his back that caused particles to come into contact with a nerve. Surgeons removed four particles during a 90-minute procedure.
It was something, as much as I was going to try to put it off, it would not have gotten better on its own, Matheny said.
Matheny doesnt expect to miss any additional time.
Around the leagues
In Glendale, Ariz., catcher Welington Castillo hit a two-run triple off Chris Capuano in the first inning, leading the Cubs to an 8-1 victory over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Cubs left-hander Chris Rusin threw five innings of one-hit ball.
In Peoria, Ariz., Michael Morse homered twice and drove in five to lead Seattle back from a six-run deficit for an 8-7 win over Cincinnati.
Reds starter Homer Bailey gave up three runs on six hits in four innings. Zack Cozart had two hits.
Joey Votto went 0-for-2 before being replaced after three innings because of illness and fatigue.