By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 10 – Cuba lost its undefeated status on Saturday in a surprise loss to the Dominican Republic 9-6 at the World Cup/Pan American Games baseball qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.
The Cubans fell behind 5-0 in the fourth inning and pulled to 5-3 on a three-run homer by Pestano in the fifth. However neither starter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez nor relievers Norberto Gonzalez, Ismel Jimenez and Dalier Hinojsa were able to contain the D.R. lineup.
The Dominicans played an aggressive game on the bases and managed to steal five bases off Pestano who also committed a costly error in the five-run fourth inning. Likewise the Dominican pitching held the heart of the Cuban lineup hitless (Gourriel, Despaigne, Cepeda).
First baseman Abreu had three hits and shortstop Yorbis Borroto had two hits to lead the Cuban offense.
Cuba plays Puerto Rico on Sunday, with Freddy Asiel Alvarez scheduled to start, and then plays the United States, its arch rival on Monday.
In other games on Sunday Panama plays Venezuela; Canada vs. United States, and Nicaragua plays the Dominicans.
The standings thus far in the quarterfinal round of the tournament have the US a top Group A with a 5-0 record (after getting by Venezuela 6-3 in 12 innings on Saturday) followed by the Dominican Republic 3-2, Puerto Rico 2-3 and Panama 1-4. In Group B, Cuba leads with 4-1 followed by Venezuela 3-2, Canada 2-3 and Nicaragua 0-5.