The U.S. is on the verge of elimination from the World Baseball Classic after a 3-1 loss to the Dominican Republic, which advanced to the semifinals.
Erick Aybar and Jose Reyes had run-scoring singles off reliever Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning to give the Dominicans the win against the U.S. last night in a second-round game in Miami.
The winner of tonight’s game between the U.S. and Puerto Rico will join the Dominican Republic, Japan and the Netherlands in the semifinals.
“Both clubs played well, both clubs had great pitching, and they beat us,” U.S. manager Joe Torre told reporters. “They earned their victory and they beat a heck of a pitcher coming out of that bullpen.”
The U.S. played without its hottest hitter, third baseman David Wright of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. Wright, who was hitting .438 with a tournament-leading 10 runs batted in, was scratched from the lineup with sore ribs.
The two Dominican runs in the ninth inning came off the Atlanta Braves’ Kimbrel, who led the National League in saves the past two seasons. Aybar, who plays for the Los Angeles Angels, singled as a pinch-hitter to break a 1-1 tie and Reyes of the Toronto Blue Jays made it 3-1.
Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays got three outs in the bottom of the ninth to save the win for Pedro Strop of the Baltimore Orioles.
The U.S. scored in the first inning when Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals walked to force in a run. Hanley Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a solo home run in the second inning to tie the score.