Panama 0


Puerto Rico 7


5:00 PM ET, March 7, 2009

123456789 R H E
PAN 000000000 0 5 2
PUR 01011130X 7 13 0
W:Vazquez (1-0)
L:Chen (0-1)

Pudge (2 HRs), Delgado propel Puerto Rico by Panama

Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Ivan Rodriguez is looking for a major league job.

He played as if he deserves one in the World Baseball Classic.

Pudge homered twice, Carlos Delgado also connected and Puerto Rico got off to a rousing start in the WBC, beating Panama 7-0 on Saturday.

Javier Vazquez combined with three relievers for a six-hitter in front of a boisterous home crowd of 17,348 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Rodriguez, a perennial All-Star and 1999 AL MVP, remains unsigned with the season less than a month away from opening. Teams in need of a catcher might take note of his 4-for-4 performance. He drove in four and scored three times.

"Pudge [Rodriguez] and Vazquez did good work," Puerto Rico coach Jose Oquendo said.

Vazquez "threw strikes. He threw [too] many pitches in the first inning, but he fought back and did a good job throwing 60 pitches," Oquendo said.

Delgado went deep in the second inning and Rodriguez made it 2-0 with a drive in the fourth. The Gold Glove catcher added a three-run drive in the seventh to make it 7-0.

Delgado missed the 2006 WBC because of any injury.

"In 2006 in was eager to represent my country, but unfortunately my elbow betrayed me," Delgado said. "But now, thank God, I feel very good because it is an honor to put on this uniform and come play in front of the people."

Vazquez allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three in 4 1-3 innings. Nelson Figueroa followed with 2 2-3 hitless innings, Saul Rivera got three outs and Carlos Gutierrez worked the ninth.

Vazquez, who signed with the Atlanta Braves in the offseason, said he felt comfortable and ready for the upcoming season.

"I felt good. Playing in winter helped me be a bit more prepared a bit earlier than usual," he said.

Delgado finished with three hits and Geovany Soto went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Puerto Rico, which will play the Netherlands on Monday.

Bruce Chen gave up two runs and four hits in four innings for Panama, which will play the Dominican Republic in an elimination game Sunday. Chen struck out three and walked three. "Bruce Chen pitched well. He had us in the game until the fourth or fifth inning, but after that they scored three runs and we were out of the game," Panama coach Hector Lopez said.

The Netherlands upset the Dominican Republic 3-2 in the first game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Saturday.


Game Information

Game Time: 2:57
Weather: 76 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind: 16 mph
Umpires: Home Plate - Laz Diaz, First Base - Stephan Dupont, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Luis Ramirez