Win puts Cuba on cusp of Classic title
Tense game turns late on pitching, fielding miscues
The teams played to a scoreless tie until the sixth, when the Dominicans benefitted from two errors by second baseman Yulieski Gourriel.
The Cubans appeared to have worked out of major trouble after the Dominicans had runners on first and third with nobody out and the meat of the order coming up. Right-hander Pedro Lazo induced a ground ball from Albert Pujols, who eliminated Placido Polanco on a throw from third baseman Michel Enriquez to catcher Ariel Pestano.
David Ortiz's fielder's choice grounder moved Miguel Tejada to third, and when Adrian Beltre knocked a grounder to Gourriel, Lazo happily put his fist in the air, assuming the inning was over.
But the ball bounced off Gourriel's glove, and in his hasty attempt to still make the play, the second baseman lobbed the ball past first baseman Ariel Borrero, allowing Tejada to score.
But the Dominican lead was short-lived. Cuba turned the tables and took advantage of its opponent's poor defense, and coincidentally, it was Gourriel who started the small rally.
Gourriel knocked a hard grounder to Tejada at third, but the throw bounced in front of Pujols and skidded past the first baseman, allowing Gourriel to advance to second. Borrero reached on a bunt single to third, moving Gourriel to third, and Frederich Cepeda grounded to second, driving in the tying run.
With Salomon Torres in to pitch and the Dominican infielders playing shallow, Osmany Urrutia snuck a single up the middle, driving in Borrero.
Alexei Ramirez drove in Cuba's third run with a sac fly to center.
The nerve-racking twist late in the game should not take away from the performance of Cuban starting pitcher Yadel Marti. His is yet to be a household name in some regions, but he certainly burst onto the scene in memorable fashion in this World Baseball Classic. Marti, 22, ends his Classic run with 12 2/3 scoreless innings, spanning four games (two starts).
He threw 4 1/3 shutout frames against a fierce Dominican club, allowing three hits while walking one and striking out two.