Olivo helps keep Dominicans alive
Catcher hits two homers as D.R. staves off Classic elimination
By Will Gonzalez / Special to MLB.com
The win was powered by the offensive production of catcher Miguel Olivo, who hit two home runs -- a two-run shot in the fourth inning and three-run blast in the eighth.
That Olivo finished the game as the offensive hero was surprising, not because the Dominican lineup is full of stars such as Miguel Tejada, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes. It was surprising because it was widely speculated on Saturday night that he would not start.
"Most managers make their lineup at home and bring it to the park. Today's lineup I made it at the ballpark after talking with my coaches," Dominican manager Felipe Alou said.
"I stayed with Olivo in the lineup because he is a Major League catcher and you have to respect that."
Olivo was grateful for the opportunity.
"The Dominican fans have to be patient. We can play ball here. Anybody can win a game for the team," Olivo said. "Today, it was me and [Nelson] Cruz. But it could have been Ortiz or Tejada."
Cruz hit a solo home run in the sixth inning.
"It was really a team win," Cruz said. "Our pitching responded. It was better than [Saturday]. The Dominican team has a good offense. So it should not be surprising to anyone that we can score a lot of runs."
Johnny Cueto, the Dominican starter, kept Panama scoreless during his 4 2/3 innings. He scattered three hits, a walk and two hit batsmen.
Panama mounted a threat against him in the bottom of the first inning. It had men on first and second with two outs, but Cueto struck out Julio Zuleta, the fifth hitter in Panama's lineup.
"I was warming up and I felt good," Cueto said. "I knew I was going to have a good game because I felt really good. In the bullpen my pitches were tough and low. All my pitches were good, especially the sinker."
Relievers Julian Tavarez, Rafael Perez, Tony Pena and Pedro Viola combined to pitch the last 4 1/3 innings without allowing a run or a walk. Tavarez allowed two hits. Pena allowed one hit.
The Dominicans also displayed timely hitting when they capitalized on two errors by Panama to score three runs in the third inning.
Alou was happy to see the hitting prowess of his team return.
"It was good even though our backs were against the wall," Alou said. "It is still against the wall, but this victory was a big one for us. It shows that the team can hit and can hit home runs."
Alou was also proud about the pitching.
"Our pitchers pitched very well [Saturday] night in a loss and very well today in a win," he said.
"The mood has changed quite a bit in the Dominican dugout. Now we have a chance to settle accounts, to see if we qualify to move up in this Classic."
The Dominicans next play on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET against the loser of Monday night's Puerto Rico-Netherlands game.
Will Gonzalez is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.