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Dominicans down U.S. in WBC

MIAMI, March 14 (UPI) -- Ninth-inning RBI singles by Erick Aybar and Josey Reyes Thursday boosted the Dominican Republic to a 3-1 win over the United States in the WBC.


The Dominicans thus joined Japan and the Netherlands in the semifinals of the world tournament. The fourth semifinal spot will be determined on Friday when the United States takes on Puerto Rico in an elimination game.

The Americans scored their only run in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Eric Hosmer, but they wasted a chance for a big inning when they left the bases jammed.

A home run in the second by Hanley Rodriguez lifted the Dominican Republic into a 1-1 tie and it stayed that way until the ninth.

Nelson Cruz opened the ninth for the Dominicans with a double and he moved to third on a ground out by Carlos Santana.


Aybar's single to right drove in Cruz with the go-ahead run and Aybar later stole second, from where he scored on the base hit from Reyes.

Both ninth-inning runs were charged to Craig Kimbrel. Pedro Strop worked a perfect eighth inning for the Dominicans to get the win and Fernando Rodney retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.

The United States defeated Puerto Rico 7-1 in the opening game of the double-elimination phase of the tournament, but will need another win to keep alive its hopes for a world championship.

Penguins win seventh straight

TORONTO, March 14 (UPI) -- Pascal Dupuis delivered two of Pittsburgh's three third-period goals Thursday that brought the Penguins back for a 3-1 win over Toronto.

Pittsburgh won its seventh in a row despite being shut out deep into the third period by Ben Scrivens.

Tyler Bozak put the Maple Leafs in front midway through the second period and Toronto was bidding for a 1-0 victory until Dupuis came through his 12th and 13th goals of the season.

He scored with 7:18 to play in the third and put the Penguins in front with 2:10 remaining. Craig Adams scored shorthanded with 10 seconds left to clinch it.


Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots in the victory. He has been in goal for four of the seven consecutive wins. Scrivens made 25 saves in what was Toronto's fourth straight loss.

Rookie leads on PGA Tour

PALM HARBOR, Fla., March 14 (UPI) -- Rookie Shawn Stefani, who has finished no better than 39th in his brief PGA Tour career, found himself in the lead Thursday at the Tampa Bay Championship.

Stefani shot a 6-under 65 at the Copperhead Course of the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club to seize a two-shot advantage after 18 holes.

He earned his way onto the tour by finishing sixth on the money list of the Tour last year. Stefani had two victories on that circuit in 2012 and finally has a shot on the big stage at the age of 31.

Stefani played a bogey-free round on a course that is one of the most difficult tests on the tour.

Brian Harman bogeyed the final hole to shoot a 67 and was alone in second while Harris English, Tag Ridings, Peter Tomasulo and Brendan Steele were all at 68. English was tied for the lead heading to his last hole, but suffered a double bogey.


K.J. Choi and Vijay Singh, both former winners of this event, shared sixth place at 69 with Geoff Ogilvy, Dicky Pride, Lucas Glover, Chez Reavie and Roberto Castro.

Defending champion Luke Donald was part of the large group at 70 while Sergio Garcia was in the crowd at 71.

Only 25 members of the 156-man field broke par.

Wozniacki, Kerber win in walkovers

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 14 (UPI) -- Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki both advanced to the BNP Paribas Open semifinals without having to step on the court Thursday.

Top seed and defending champion Victoria Azarenka, who was to have played Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, withdrew due to a right ankle injury. Samantha Stosur, Kerber's opponent, could not play due to a strained right calf.

"On my warmup today I tested it out as much as possible," Azarenka said. "I tried absolutely everything I could to do, but I have been advised by the doctor, by my own team, that it's just a very, very high risk already.


"It's already really painful, but it's very high risk to make it much worse."

Azarenka had put together a 17-0 record this year before suffering the injury.

Stosur said she injured her calf muscle in the final game of her fourth-round victory over Mona Barthel.

"I don't know if you can get any more unlucky than that," Stosur said. "I love playing in front of this crowd, so to have to pull out without even being able to get on court is probably as bad as it gets."

Kerber and Wozniacki will face off in Friday's semifinals. Kerber has won three of their five career meetings -- all of those victories having come in 2012.

The other semifinal match will send Maria Sharapova against Maria Kirilenko.

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