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WBC: Puerto Rico 3, Japan 1

SAN FRANCISCO, March 18 (UPI) — Alex Rios smashed a two-run homer Sunday and Puerto Rico advanced to the World Baseball Classic final with a 3-1 victory over Japan.

With Puerto Rico clinging to a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning, Mike Aviles led off the frame with a single against Atsushi Nohmi and Rios followed by blasting a pitch into the left-field stands of San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

Aviles also drove in a run with a first-inning single for Puerto Rico, which eliminated two-time defending champion Japan and moved on to Tuesday’s WBC title game against the winner of Monday’s semifinal between the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic.

Mario Santiago (1-0) earned the victory with 4 1/3 scoreless innings, yielding a pair of hits and a walk while striking out two.

Fernando Cabrera recorded the final two outs to collect the save.

Japanese starter Kenta Maeda (0-1) was tagged with the loss despite surrendering just one run on four hits over five frames.

Hirokazu Ibata got Japan’s only RBI.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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