Dominican Republic rallies past Italy in WBC

March 12, 2013

MIAMI (AP) -- Robinson Cano pumped his fist. Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez danced together near home plate. Fernando Rodney pointed to the sky after the final out.

The Dominican Republic is unbeaten and having fun in the World Baseball Classic.

Nelson Cruz's two-out, RBI single broke a seventh-inning tie, and the Dominicans overcame an early four-run deficit Tuesday to beat Italy 5-4.

Cano had three hits, including his second home run in the WBC. He led a comeback that had his teammates laughing and celebrating every hit in front of their dugout.

"That's something you never see in the big leagues," Cano said. "Here we get a chance to come out and give high-fives to the guys. We can jump around. Nobody sees you trying to show somebody up. It's more about the chemistry on the team. We're all excited to be here, and we've all got a mission to win."

Italy hitting coach Mike Piazza said his team noted the Dominicans' demeanor.

"Some enhanced theatrics," Piazza said. "It's not what we're used to, but hey, you have to go to with it and have fun. It's unorthodox for me. Obviously in a 162-game season you're not going to be seeing that, so you have to just let it roll off your back."

The Dominicans (4-0) advanced to a winner's-bracket game Thursday night in the double-elimination second round.

Cano's homer off the upper-deck facade in right field made the score 2-all in the sixth. Reyes also homered, and celebrated with Ramirez after crossing the plate.

"This team has a lot of emotion," manager Tony Pena said. "They kept talking in the dugout -- `We're going to come back and win the game.'"

Chris Colabello hit a three-run homer, his second, to give Italy a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

The Dominicans trailed 4-2 in the seventh, when they loaded the bases with one out on consecutive singles by Reyes, Erick Aybar and Cano off Pat Venditte (0-1).

Edwin Encarnacion walked to force in a run, and Ramirez tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

Cruz followed with a broken-bat, two-out single to give the Dominicans their first lead. Cruz has six RBIs in four games, while Cano hiked his average to .632 (12 for 19) with six RBIs.

"My interest is to win," Cano said. "We're having a really good time."

The New York Yankees second baseman was annoyed in the seventh when Italy's Nick Punto slid hard into second base on an inning-ending forceout.

"I was upset," Cano said. "I don't care if you slide on a double play, but when it's a forceout, the last thing you want to do is get hurt."

The crowd of 14,482 was festive for the opening game in Miami, with horn-honking and chanting by Dominican fans who created a steady din. The retractable roof, closed for all but eight Marlins games last year, was open on an 80-degree afternoon.

Pedro Strop (2-0) threw a scoreless seventh. Rodney, who has yet to allow a hit in four appearances, reached 98 mph on the radar gun when he pitched a hitless ninth for his third save.

Five relievers limited Italy to one hit and no runs over the final 4 2-3 innings.

"You're facing some hard throwers in that bullpen," Colabello said. "They're got pretty good stuff."

Early wildness plagued Dominican starter Edinson Volquez, who threw only one of his first 13 pitches for a strike as he walked the bases loaded. Alex Liddi's sacrifice fly made it 1-0, and Colabello followed with a homer.

"Four runs was one too few," Colabello said. "I don't think any lead is comfortable, especially in this format."

Volquez allowed four runs in 4 1-3 innings.

"Our pitching after the first inning did a great job," Pena said.

Tiago Da Silva went 5 1-3 innings for Italy and allowed two runs, both on homers. The Italians play in a losers'-bracket game Wednesday.

"They're obviously an All-Star caliber team," Piazza said. "Obviously we are disappointed. We have to just try and inch back tomorrow and hopefully pick up a `W' and keep going."