Team USA finally gets an easy win

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 play Thursday night against the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico plays Italy in an elimination game today.

Gonzalez, 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.

Gonzalez improved the ERA of the U.S. rotation to 4.00.

Wright had an RBI groundout in the third and an RBI single in the fifth. The Rays' Ben Zobrist went 0-for-3 with a walk as the DH.

MORE WBC: Nelson Cruz's two-out RBI single broke a seventh-inning tie, and the Dominicans overcame an early four-run deficit to beat Italy 5-4. The Rays' Fernando Rodney earned the save. … Shinnosuke Abe homered twice in an eight-run second inning, Hisayoshi Chono drove in five runs and two-time defending champion Japan beat the Netherlands 10-6 to win its second-round group.

MANNY STARTING FRESH: Manny Ramirez said he is "starting a new beginning" after signing a short-term contract to play with the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan's professional baseball league. The Rhinos said Ramirez, 40, will earn $25,000 a month to appear with the team during the March-November season.

FAMILY REUNION: Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes rejoined the Athletics in Phoenix after briefly leaving to be reunited with his family for the first time in about a year. The Cuban defector surprised family members in Miami after they arrived from the Turks and Caicos, where they had been detained as illegal immigrants. The relatives, including Cespedes' mother, Estela Milanes, were released Jan. 21.

ASTRODOME ON HOLD: The dilemma of the deteriorating Houston Astrodome remained unresolved with the passing of a deadline to put a bond referendum before voters in May. Harris County commissioners took no action on the ballot initiative to raise millions of dollars to do something with the 48-year-old stadium.

BRAVES: Right-hander Julio Teheran, a top prospect who struggled at Triple A last season, took another step toward winning the fifth spot in the rotation with five hitless innings. Teheran, 22, has a 1.29 spring ERA.

ORIOLES: Rightfielder Nick Markakis was diagnosed with a small herniated disc in his neck and will be out about another week.

RED SOX: First baseman Mike Napoli, who was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both hips in the offseason, played consecutive games for the first time and had an RBI single and a double. … Shortstop Stephen Drew still has concussion symptoms after being beaned Thursday and has not been cleared to resume working out.

Team USA finally gets an easy win 03/12/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 1:04am]

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