Netherlands 1


Puerto Rico 3


6:30 PM ET, March 9, 2009

123456789 R H E
NED 010000000 1 5 1
PUR 00000003X 3 8 0
W:J. Romero (1-0)
L:D. Neuman (0-1)
SV:F. Cabrera (1)

Molina, Puerto Rico beat Netherlands to reach second round

Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico became the latest star-laden team to struggle against Netherlands pitchers at the World Baseball Classic.

Yadier Molina's go-ahead double keyed a three-run rally in the eighth inning, and Puerto Rico beat a pesky Netherlands squad 3-1 on Monday night to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

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"The boys have experienced a lot, and me even more," Puerto Rico manager Jose Oquendo said. "There was no panic. The Netherlands played great. They can hold their heads up and I expect them to give a good battle to the Dominican Republic."

The Netherlands pulled off a major upset in its tournament opener Saturday, beating the Dominicans 3-2. The pitching staff, with coach Bert Blyleven in the dugout, also was impressive against favored Puerto Rico, protecting a 1-0 lead until the eighth.

Big league sluggers Carlos Delgado and Alex Rios opened the inning with walks. After Ivan Rodriguez struck out, Mike Aviles walked to load the bases and Molina followed with a two-run double to left off Leon Boyd that put Puerto Rico in front before a sold-out home crowd of 19,479 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

"Threw me a slider and I was able to connect well with it. It was very emotional because my family was there," Molina said.

Alex Cora flied out, but Jesus Feliciano's RBI single made it 3-1. On the play, Molina was thrown out at the plate.

J.C. Romero and Fernando Cabrera combined for a perfect ninth, sending Puerto Rico to Miami for second-round action beginning Saturday.

"The only thing bad was the 10 men we left on base, but that is part of the game," Oquendo said.

The Netherlands will face the Dominican Republic again in an elimination game Tuesday night. The winner of that game will play Puerto Rico on Wednesday for first place in Group D.

"I'm very proud of my teammates because they played to win and played hard for the entire game," Netherlands first baseman Randall Simon said. "Puerto Rico has a tremendous team with many stars, but we never backed down because we have a great team as well and we think we have a good chance."

Oquendo said San Francisco Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez will start Puerto Rico's next game.

Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Ian Snell started Monday for Puerto Rico, allowing one run and three hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Pedro Feliciano provided 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Romero also worked 1 1/3 innings for the win.

Romero, a key member of the strong bullpen that helped the Philadelphia Phillies win the 2008 World Series, must serve a 50-game major league suspension following a positive drug test caused by a contaminated supplement. The MLB suspension starts only with the regular season.

"I am going through a difficult and unjust situation, but I will continue doing the best I can when they need me," Romero said. "I felt good today and I was able to contribute to the victory."

Netherlands starter Rick VandenHurk pitched three-hit ball for 3 1/3 innings.

"Our pitching was very good. It set the pace and we played very well defensively, but at the end we allow them some liberties," Netherlands manager Rod Delmonico said.


Game Information

Game Time: 3:11
Weather: 78 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind: 10 mph
Umpires: Home Plate - Larry Vanover, First Base - Corrie Davis, Second Base - Laz Diaz, Third Base - Stephan Dupont