Panama falls victim to Pudge, P.R.
Must now face Dominican Republic in elimination match
By Will Gonzalez / Special to MLB.com
Bruce Chen regroups after allowing Carlos Delgado's solo home run. (Andres Leighton/AP)
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SAN JUAN, P.R. -- Panama could not overcome Ivan Rodriguez's
hitting and Javier Vazquez's pitching and lost to Puerto Rico, 7-0, on Saturday in Game 2 of Pool D play in the World Baseball Classic.
Rodriguez hit two home runs and a double, scored three runs,
and had four RBIs in his four official at-bats of the game.
Javier Vazquez, Puerto Rico's starter, shut out Panama in
his 4 1/3 innings of work by scattering four hits and one walk. He struck out three and exited after throwing 60 pitches.
The only threat that Panama could mount against Vazquez
occurred in the third inning. After one out, Luis Durango hit an infield single to the shortstop and Angel Chavez hit a single to left to put men on first and
second. Vazquez then induced Ruben Rivera to hit a line drive to the left of second baseman Felipe Lopez, who dove, caught the liner, and tossed the ball to second base to complete a double play.
Nelson Figueroa relieved Vazquez and continued to shut out
Panama for the next 2 2/3 innings. Saul Rivera followed Figueroa on the mound in the eighth. Carlos Gutierrez pitched the ninth to keep Panama scoreless.
"They pitched well and they scored runs," said
Panama's manager Hector Lopez after the game. "To win a game we have to score runs, but we were not batting. That is why we lost today."
Not all of Panama's bats had difficulty with Puerto Rico's
pitching. Durango, Panama's leadoff hitter, reached base in three of his four at-bats thanks to two walks and a single. Javier Castillo went 2-for-4, and Carlos Ruiz reached base in two of his three at-bats. Ruiz, however, left the
game due to a pinched nerve in his neck, according to Lopez.
Panama's manager was satisfied with the work of his left-handed starter, Bruce Chen. "He pitched very well." Chen pitched four innings in which he allowed four hits, two runs, and three walks. The runs were solo home runs by Carlos Delgado and Rodriguez.
"I did the most I could. I attacked the zone and I
tried to keep my team close, but, unfortunately, we did not win," said Chen.
Chen was very impressed with what Rodriguez accomplished
against his team. "Rodriguez made a difference today under so much pressure and many things not in his favor. He doesn't have a team and the Classic is such a short tournament here in Puerto Rico. He showed and proved
that he does not feel pressure".
Panama will face the Dominican Republic on Sunday at 4:30
p.m. ET at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Ramiro Mendoza will start for Panama. Johnny Cueto will start for the Dominican team. The loser of Sunday's game will be eliminated from the Classic. The winner will face the loser of the game
between Puerto Rico and the Netherlands scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET.