MIAMI — Gio Gonzalez gave Team USA its best start yet, and David Wright provided a big finish.
Gonzalez pitched five scoreless innings and the Americans beat Puerto Rico 7-1 in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.
Wright drove in five runs, the last three with a bases-loaded double in the eighth. That prompted chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” from the crowd of 32,872.
The United States fell behind in all three games in the opening round, but led from the first inning against Puerto Rico. The Americans will play Thursday night against the Dominican Republic, which remained unbeaten in the WBC by rallying past Italy 5-4 on Tuesday.
Puerto Rico plays Italy in an elimination game today.
Gonzalez (1-0), who grew up in nearby Hialeah, struck out five for the hometown team and departed with a 3-0 lead. Manager Joe Torre then went to his bullpen, and five relievers combined to allow one run over the final four innings.
Dominican Republic 5, Italy 4
MIAMI — Nelson Cruz’s two-out RBI single broke a seventh-inning tie, and the Dominican Republic overcame an early four-run deficit to beat Italy in the World Baseball Classic.
The Dominicans (4-0) remained unbeaten and advanced to a winner’s-bracket game Thursday night in the double-elimination second round.
Robinson Cano had three hits, including his second homer of the WBC with a drive off the upper-deck facade in right field.
Japan 10, Netherlands 6
TOKYO — Shinnosuke Abe homered twice in an eight-run second inning as two-time defending champion Japan beat the Netherlands to secure first place in Pool 1 of the World Baseball Classic.
Japan and the Netherlands have qualified for the semifinals in San Francisco on March 17-18.