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Puerto Rico's big 7th inning delivers sixth WBC victory

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Photographs by GREGORY BULL / AP

Puerto Rico outfielder Mike Aviles hits a two-run single, one of his four hits, in the seventh inning of a 13-2 victory over Venezuela in San Diego on Saturday in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

SAN DIEGO -- Mike Aviles got four hits and drove in three runs as Puerto Rico, already assured a spot in the World Baseball Classic semifinals, beat Venezuela 13-2 Saturday for its sixth consecutive victory in the tournament.

Puerto Rico, runner-up to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 WBC, will play the Netherlands on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

Kennys Vargas hit a two-run home run and Angel Pagan added a double and two singles as Puerto Rico got 17 hits. A day earlier, Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina helped Puerto Rico hold off the United States 6-5.

"I feel super great," said Vargas, who was among the backup Puerto Rico players getting a chance on Saturday. "It's great to help the team offensively so we can obtain our goal."

Starter Jose De Leon pitched 22/3 scoreless innings for the victory. Martin Perez took the loss.

"That's the first time I had seen Jose pitch live," Rodriguez said. "I am very impressed with his fastball and his secondary pitches. He will be pitching in the big leagues this year, I am confident of that."

Venezuela lost to Puerto Rico for the second time in this year's WBC. It fell 11-0 in an abbreviated first-round game shortened because of the mercy rule.

Puerto Rico put the game out of reach with a five-run seventh after Venezuela pulled to within 5-2 on Rougned Odor's two-run home run in the sixth.

"I think we didn't play the baseball that I expected or that people expected," Venezuela Manager Omar Vizquel said. "Sincerely, we thought we were going to play better ball."

Reymond Fuentes' RBI double and Pagan's run-scoring single made it 5-0 in the sixth.

Aviles' two-out single pushed Puerto Rico to a 3-0 lead in the fifth. Carlos Correa, who had walked for the second time, scored on the hit.

Correa doubled in the third and scored an unearned run when T. J. Rivera's slow roller to the right side was fielded cleanly by first baseman Hernan Perez, who made an errant throw to Martin Perez at first.

Venezuela loaded the bases with one out in the second. Hernan Perez lifted a shallow fly ball to left, but Victor Martinez was late returning to third base to tag up. Martinez attempted to score, but he was an easy out at the plate on Pagan's throw.

FRIDAY'S LATE GAME

PUERTO RICO 6,UNITED STATES 5

SAN DIEGO -- Yadier Molina and Puerto Rico advanced to the WBC semifinals after scoring four runs in the first inning and then holding on for a wild 6-5 victory against the United States.

When Edwin Diaz struck out Josh Harrison to end the game with Brandon Crawford standing on third base, players raced out of the Puerto Rico dugout to join the celebration on the infield.

By clinching Pool F with a day to go, Puerto Rico (2-0) will play the Netherlands on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

Puerto Rico took a 4-0 lead in the first, watched Buster Posey and Adam Jones hit impressive home runs, and then benefited from a two-run, two-base, two-out throwing error in the sixth by third baseman Nolan Arenado, who won the Gold Glove Award in each of his first four big league seasons.

With most of the 32,463 fans on their feet and chanting in the top of the ninth, a U.S. rally fell just short. Crawford hit a two-run triple to the left-center gap off Diaz with two outs to pull the Americans within a run and spark chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

Diaz then struck out Josh Harrison for his second save to send the Puerto Ricans into a frenzy.

"They are a very good team and they are doing a lot of things right," U.S. Manager Jim Leyland said. "You tip your hat to them."

Sports on 03/19/2017

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