Netherlands pulls off a shocker

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Associated Press

Missing an injured Alex Rodriguez and several other stars, the Dominican Republic was punchless at the plate.

Sidney Ponson helped to hold the Dominican lineup in check, and the Netherlands pulled off a huge upset in their World Baseball Classic opener with a 3-2 victory Saturday at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It was a startling loss for the heavily favored Dominicans, considered contenders to win the 16-team tournament. Now, they are one defeat from elimination in Group D pool play.


“That was a team we should have trounced 9-0,” Dominican Republic Manager Felipe Alou said. “We haven’t pressed the panic button, but we know we cannot afford the luxury of losing again.”

Alou blamed the loss in part on two errors in the first inning, and said he wished the game had started later to give players more time to rest.

Ponson pitched four solid innings for the Netherlands, giving up two runs and five hits.

“This is a great moment for us -- something extraordinary,” Netherlands Manager Rod Delmonico said. “We were ready to play hard and our pitchers did a great job.”

Puerto Rico 7, Panama 0 -- Ivan Rodriguez homered twice, Carlos Delgado also connected and Puerto Rico got off to a rousing start in the second game at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Javier Vazquez combined with three relievers for a six-hitter in front of a boisterous home crowd of 17,348 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Rodriguez, a longtime star still looking for a major league job this season, was four for four with four runs batted in and scored three times.


Vazquez gave up four hits, walked one and struck out three in 4 1/3 innings.

Japan 14, South Korea 2 -- Ichiro Suzuki found his stroke and Japan advanced to the second round. Suzuki was hitless in five at-bats as Japan struggled to beat China in the tournament opener but had three hits and scored three times to help Japan rout South Korea in seven innings at Tokyo.

Olympic champion South Korea will play China today, with the winner also advancing.

Venezuela 7, Italy 0 -- Carlos Guillen and Melvin Mora hit solo home runs, and Bobby Abreu singled in two runs in a four-run fifth inning for Venezuela at Toronto.

Mora was two for four with three RBIs and Jose Lopez was three for three with a walk and scored twice for Venezuela.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez gave up a single in four scoreless innings to earn the victory. He walked two and struck out four.