SAN JUAN, PR.– Daniel Cabrera struck out seven over four scoreless innings to help lead the Dominican Republic to the "Finals" of the World Baseball Classic with a 2-1 victory over Venezuela on Tuesday.
A passed ball by Venezuelan catcher Ramon Hernandez with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh broke open a 1-1 tie to give the Dominican Republic the decisive run.
"I don't know what happened," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo told reporters.
"It was a good pitch right down the middle. (Hernandez) just didn't catch it. Defensively, he's good. He just missed it."
Taking place at PETCO Park in San Diego, the Finals will pit the top two teams from each pool against each other on Saturday for a place in Monday's championship game at the inaugural 16-nation event.
Leading the four-team Pool 2 with a 2-1 record, the Dominican Republic will line up against the winner of the last group game between Cuba and Puerto Rico (both 1-1) in the first semi-final. Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Mexico can all still advance from Pool 1.
Cabrera combined with four relief pitchers to hold Venezuela to only one hit, a double to Omar Vizquel in the sixth inning that initiated Venezuela's lone scoring rally, capped by a ground-out by Bobby Abreu that scored Juan Rivera.
"I've never pitched in a World Series game, but I don't believe I would have has as much desire to do as well as I did today," the 24-year-old Baltimore Orioles starter said. Venezuelan Edgardo Alfonzo, who entered the game with a team-leading .417 average, was caught deep in right field with two outs and the bases loaded to end the game.
Venezuela starter Freddy Garcia, who won the decisive game in the 2005 World Series for the Chicago White Sox, gave up one run on four hits in four innings of work.
"We had a meeting right after the game and there were some long faces," Sojo added.
"They were all conscious that there was one objective. With a team of that magnitude, it's extremely sad. "But baseball is unpredictable and the game takes a lot of turns."