Venezuela claims 7th Series crown

Updated: February 7, 2009, 8:46 AM ET
Associated Press

MEXICALI, Mexico -- Venezuela's Aragua Tigers won their first Caribbean Series after beating Mexico's Mazatlan Venados 5-3 on Friday night.

It was Venezuela's seventh Caribbean crown but Aragua's first.

Venezuela is undefeated in five games heading into Saturday's last round of matches, which will be played to complete the schedule. Mexico is 3-2, followed by Puerto Rico's Ponce Lions (1-4) and the Dominican Republic's Licey Tigers (1-4).

Licey was the defending champion.

Venezuela's Raul Chavez went 3-of-5 with two RBIs, including one during the decisive three-run rally in the seventh inning that broke a 2-all tie.

Venezuela relied again behind its excellent relief pitching, and used five pitchers in the game. Starter Erick Arteaga lasted 2 2/3 innings and allowed three hits and one run, with two strikeouts.

Orber Moreno (1-0) worked two scoreless innings for the win. Francisco Butto saved his fourth game of the series, a new record.

Venezuela's pitching staff began the game with a 1.42 ERA, the best in the tournament.

Earlier, Josue Matos pitched five scoreless innings and Puerto Rico beat the Dominican 3-0 for its first win.

The Lions ended an 11 game losing streak dating to the 1982 Caribbean Series, one loss short of the record set by Mexico's Hermosillo Naranjeros.

The Dominican Republic has had its worst tournament since the Cibao Eagles finished 2-4 in 1996. Licey, the defending champion and all-time leader with 10 titles, was eliminated Thursday after losing 3-2 to Aragua.

Jesus Feliciano and Andy Gonzalez hit solo homers and Luis Figueroa drove in the other run for Puerto Rican, while Matos (1-0) when five innings with one strikeout and six walks. Ivan Maldonado pitched the ninth for the save.

Julio Mateo (0-1) allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings for the loss. He struck out one and walked two.

Puerto Rico plays Venezuela and Mexico faces the Dominican Republic on Saturday to complete the schedule.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press