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March 27, 2017 7:50

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15:52 18 March 2017

Baseball: Puerto Rico edges U.S. to advance to WBC semis

SAN DIEGO, March 17, Kyodo

Puerto Rico edged the United States 6-5 on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic as the top finisher in second-round Pool F.

Puerto Rico, runner-up in the last WBC in 2013, will play the Netherlands in the first semifinal Monday in Los Angeles, while Japan will meet the winner of Saturday's Pool F game between the United States and defending champion the Dominican Republic in the other semis Tuesday.

In Friday's game at Petco Park in San Diego, Carlos Correa, his Houston Astros teammate Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals hit back-to-back RBI singles in the first inning to help give Puerto Rico a 4-0 lead.

After the United States notched three runs, including solo homers by Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, by the top of the sixth, Puerto Rico scored two more runs on an opponent's throwing error.

The host team came to within one run in the ninth but ran out of steam.

In the Pool F round-robin competition, Puerto Rico has two wins, the United States and the Dominican Republic are at 1-1 and Venezuela has two losses.

Even Puerto Rico loses to Venezuela on Saturday for a 2-1 record along with the winner of the U.S.-Dominican game, it will still finish at the top of the group standings under tournament rules that say a tie for first and second place in a pool should be broken by ranking the team that beat the other in that round higher.

Puerto Rico has defeated both the United States and the Dominican Republic in the grouping.

Japan, winner of second-round Pool E that wrapped up earlier this week at Tokyo Dome, had a light practice session for about two hours Friday in Glendale, Arizona.

"If the players get tired, it's difficult to make the one shot that counts," said Japan skipper Hiroki Kokubo. "I want them to make preparations so that they will be able to perform well."

The two-time WBC champion and 2013 semifinalist aiming to reclaim the crown in the fourth edition of the tourney, Japan will play practice games against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday in Arizona.

==Kyodo

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