Cruz Homer Caps Comeback As Dominicans Beat US 7-5 In WBC

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — It was quite the night at Marlins Park.

With their team playing the United States in a frenzied atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic, Dominican rooters spent much of the game on their feet while honking horns, pounding drums and rattling noisemakers.

Eventually they rattled the Americans.

Nelson Cruz hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off Andrew Miller in the eighth inning, Starling Marte added a solo shot off the All-Star reliever and the defending champion Dominicans overcame a five-run deficit to beat the United States 7-5 Saturday night.

“If you didn’t feel the emotions of this game, either you were dead or need to be checked out,” Cruz said.

The comeback delighted a clamorous crowd of 37,446, the largest for baseball in the five-year history of Marlins Park.

“The fans were incredible,” Miller said. “It was a different atmosphere from anything we’re used to — different from the playoffs or World Series games. It was a blast to be a part of it. I just would have liked to have gone in there and done my job and made them quiet. I didn’t do that.”

The U.S. fell to 1-1 and is in jeopardy of being eliminated in the first round. The Americans, who play Canada on Sunday, failed to reach the finals of the three previous WBCs.

The Dominicans improved to 10-0 in the past two Classics, including 2-0 this year. They can clinch first place in Pool C and advance to the second round by beating Colombia on Sunday.

Team USA was on the verge of clinching a berth in the second round when Miller took the mound with a 5-3 lead in the eighth. He hit Jose Bautista on a foot with a breaking ball starting the inning, Carlos Santana followed with an infield single and Cruz pulled an 0-2 slider just inside the foul pole.

Miller yanked off his cap in dismay, while Cruz began gleefully pumping his fists even before he reached first base.

“In Little League you get emotional when you hit one like that,” Cruz said in Spanish. “Only in a movie or dream you can describe what occurred.”

One batter later, Marte also homered.

“They did a good job, whether it was me getting a little too much of the plate or them knowing what was coming,” Miller said. “They made me pay.”

Manny Machado began the comeback with a solo homer in the sixth against Tanner Roark. The Dominicans’ three homers gave them five in the first two games of the tournament.

But the raucous sellout crowd was the night’s biggest star — and a rare sight at Marlins Park, with even the upper deck packed. U.S. fans were far outnumbered in the stands, not a surprise in a city that is a gateway to the Caribbean.

Starter Marcus Stroman threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings for the Americans, but his replacement, Roark, gave up Machado’s homer and Santana’s two-run single.

Roark said he was at fault for allowing the Dominicans to get going.

“My bullpen was good. You’ve got to translate that to going out there on the mound and blocking out all the noise,” he said, standing in a ballpark tunnel half an hour after the game. “It was very loud all game long. Even in warmups. Even right now, you can hear the horns.”

Brandon Crawford had a pair of two-out, run-scoring hits for the Americans, and the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich each delivered an RBI hit. A misplay of a routine fly by the Dominicans helped the U.S. take a 2-0 lead on the third.

The Dominicans’ Edinson Volquez, making his fifth career WBC start, allowed three runs — one earned — in 3 2/3 innings. Jeurys Familia, facing possible suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, needed only 11 pitches to earn the save with a perfect ninth.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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