Baseball notes: Puerto Rico bounces US from the WBC

After earning a spot in the final four, Puerto Rico players form a victory pile on the infield.
wilfredo lee/associated press
After earning a spot in the final four, Puerto Rico players form a victory pile on the infield.

Once again, the United States could only watch as an opposing pitcher celebrated at the World Baseball Classic.

This time it was 38-year-old righthander Nelson Figueroa, who became the pride of Puerto Rico Friday night when he led his team into the semifinals and eliminated the Americans, 4-3, in Miami.

After Figueroa threw his last pitch to end the sixth inning, he leaped off the mound with a hoot like a kid at recess, then ran to catcher Yadier Molina to share a hug.


On Thursday night, demonstrative Dominicans dominated the US’ All-Star-laden lineup. The Americans endured a scoreless streak of 14 innings spanning the two defeats, and Figueroa limited them to two singles in six shutout innings.

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J.C. Romero escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and retired the final four batters for his first save. The last out triggered a pileup of Puerto Ricans behind the mound.

The WBC semifinals begin Sunday in San Francisco. Puerto Rico will play the Dominican Republic on Saturday in the final Pool 2 game in Miami, which will determine seedings for the championship round. Two-time defending champion Japan and the Netherlands round out the final four.

Figueroa has a modest 20-35 record for six teams in nine major league seasons, with his most recent big league game in May 2011. But he dominated Friday, allowing only a singles by Brandon Phillips in the fourth and Jimmy Rollins in the sixth.

Puerto Rico scored all four runs with two out. Mike Aviles had an RBI single in the first off of Ryan Vogelsong, and Andy Gonzalez doubled home two runs in the sixth. Vinny Pestano walked in a run after replacing Vogelsong in the sixth.


Trailing, 4-1, the Americans rallied in the eighth. Rollins and Phillips singled off Jose De La Torre, and Ryan Braun followed with an RBI double. Joe Mauer walked to load the bases, and with two out, Fernando Cabrera walked Ben Zobrist to force in a run and make it 4-3.

Eric Hosmer then grounded out again Romero, who followed with a perfect ninth.

Wright told to rest

Not only was David Wright unavailable for the US team Friday night, the Mets third baseman is uncertain for Opening Day because of a moderate strain on the left side of his rib cage.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday that Wright would rest for three to five days. Only time will tell whether the 30-year-old star is ready to begin the regular season on April 1, the GM said.

‘‘Anything about his availability for Opening Day is speculative,’’ Alderson said. ‘‘Is it possible he'll be out for a longer time? Sure.’’


Wright received an injection in New York, and will rejoin the Mets on Saturday and rest before starting up again.

Yankees add Boesch

The Yankees signed outfielder Brennan Boesch to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million, with another $600,000 available in performance incentives. Boesch, 27, was released by the Tigers this week. He drove in 54 runs for the second consecutive year last season, but his batting average was a career-low .240, with 104 strikeouts and just 26 walks. Boesch is expected to see time in left field until Curtis Granderson returns from a right forearm fracture in May . . . Yankees ace CC Sabathia got a little stronger with each inning in his spring training debut. After a two-run first, Sabathia worked four more innings, allowing two runs and eight hits in the Yankees’ 7-3 exhibition victory over the Marlins in Tampa. Sabathia struck out two and walked one in his first game since having arthroscopic surgery Oct. 25 to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. Sabathia pitched in several simulated games this spirng. ‘‘The last few innings, his fastball command was really good,’’ Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli said. ‘‘His slider was amazing the whole game.”

Brewers get bat back

Aramis Ramirez went 1 for 2 in his return to Milwaukee’s lineup after missing two weeks because of a sprained left knee, and the Brewers beat the Indians, 4-3, in an exhibition game in Phoenix. “If you’re going to get hurt, I did it at the right time,’’ said Ramirez, who had 105 RBIs and an NL-leading 50 doubles last season . . . On the day he was announced as the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter, Adam Wainwright allowed only three hits over six innings in a 5-1 exhibition win over the Nationals in Jupiter, Fla. . . . Giants ace Matt Cain looked ready for his Opening Day start, working five shutout innings in a 5-2 exhibition victory over the Rangers in Scottsdale, Ariz.