(Reuters) – The Dominican Republic, with home runs by Gregory Polanco and Nelson Cruz backing a combined effort by six pitchers, shut out Venezuela 3-0 on Thursday to remain in the hunt for a semi-final berth in the World Baseball Classic.
The Dominicans, winners of the 2013 WBC, had an 11-game WBC winning streak snapped in their second-round opener against Puerto Rico and were in danger of falling to 0-2 in the four-team Pool F in San Diego.
Edinson Volquez started for the defending champions and pitched into the fifth and was followed to the mound by Fernando Abad, Hansel Robles, Dellin Betances, Alex Colome and Jeurys Familia, who notched the save for winner Abad.
Polanco snapped a scoreless tie by lining a home run to right-center off Venezuelan starter Jhoulys Chacin for the only run the Dominicans would need.
Robinson Cano stroked an RBI-single in the seventh and Cruz added another insurance run with homer to right in the eighth.
The Dominicans will enter the final day of Pool F play on Saturday tied for second with the loser of Friday’s United States-Puerto Rico game.
Venezuela, while not eliminated, fell to 0-2 and need a win over 2013 runners-up Puerto Rico, who are 4-0 so far in this year’s WBC, and for the United States to sweep Pool F to have a chance to advance.
Japan and the Netherlands have already booked their final four trip to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for the March 20-22 finals.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)