Jesse Sanchez

Venezuela stays perfect in Caribbean Series

Caribes starter Valdez stifles Cuba over seven innings for team's third win of tournament

Venezuela stays perfect in Caribbean Series

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The once unheralded Caribes de Anzoategui club from Venezuela has emerged as the team to beat in this year's Caribbean Series.

On Thursday, Cesar Valdez pitched seven solid innings, leading Venezuela to a 6-2 victory against Cuba's Pinar del Rio team to remain undefeated in tournament play after three games.

Valdez allowed both runs on solo homers and struck out eight.

Venezuela will take on Mexico in the first game Friday, while the Dominican Republic will square off against Puerto Rico in the nightcap. Two semifinal games are scheduled for Saturday with a championship final on tap for Sunday.

Cuba dropped to 1-3 with the loss and will need help to qualify for the semifinals.

"Things worked out well," said Valdez, who pitched in the Major Leagues for Arizona in 2010. "I was trying to work down in the strike zone, and thank God things worked out the way I hoped."

Balbino Fuenmayor provided much of the offense for Venezuela, hitting a home run and driving in two runs. He finished 3-for-4.

Venezuela racked up 10 hits and was 5-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

"[Valdez] gave us the opportunity to give our bullpen a rest," Venezuela manager Omar Lopez said. "Balbino had the chance to hit his first home run of the series. We also had good pitching, defense and at-bats."

Alexander Malleta and Luis Valdes each hit a home run for Cuba.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.