Williams, Beltran homer in Puerto Rico's romp

Updated: March 11, 2006, 12:42 AM ET
Associated Press


Bernie Williams and Carlos Beltran homered and Puerto Rico routed Cuba 12-2 in a World Baseball Classic game Friday night that was strictly for pride, with both teams having already secured spots in the second round.

Williams, named the best player in Pool C, hit a two-run homer to right in the second before a home crowd of 19,000 fans.

"Most definitely this home run that I hit was very important -- it was a milestone in my career... I felt that I was playing the World Series in the month of March," Williams said.

"My mother was here and my uncle was here, as well, watching me lay, and they had not watched me play for a very long time," he added.

Beltran hit a towering three-run homer right over the foul pole in right field and Alex Cintron also had a two-run shot for Puerto Rico.

Cuba walked eight hitters, allowed 10 hits and let the game wrap up early. The mercy rule went into effect and play was called after seven innings.

"We lost the battle but not the war. The war begins Sunday," said manager Higinio Velez.

It's just the second time Cuba has lost a game by the mercy rule. The other was against Taiwan in 1983.

"That means that Cuba is a great team because if not it would have lost many times under the mercy rule. But that's only happened twice," Velez said. "Our second-line pitchers did not come through and we couldn't use our best pitchers today. That was the fundamental cause of our defeat."

Puerto Rico starter Dickie Gonzalez pitched four innings and gave up two hits and one unearned run for the win.

Puerto Rico's Jose Santiago was ejected from the game in the seventh inning for hitting Juan Carlos Moreno with a pitch on the back. Manager Jose Oquendo was also ejected. Both benches had received warnings from the home plate umpire.

Puerto Rico opens the second round against Venezuela and the Dominican Republic plays Cuba on Sunday in San Juan.

Tournament organizers said that approximately 75,000 fans attended the six-game series between the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Panama.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press