• Brewers' Villar sparks Aguilas Cibaenas' victory
The game launched the Serie de las Americas, and it counts in the Venezuelan Winter League standings. Lara is now 20-16, while Magallanes fell to 19-17.
"With all the traveling, and all that stuff, I think it was hard for us, but we played a good game," Lara manager Luis Dorante said. "I thought was going to be tough for both teams.
"But the atmosphere, and all that stuff, seeing the Venezuelan fans up here, it was good. A good win."
Dorante, who manages in the Yankees' system, formerly was the bullpen coach of the Marlins (2005) and Pirates (2008-10).
Lara advances to Sunday's championship game, where it will face the winner of Saturday's matchup between Licey and Aguilas, two heated rivals from the Dominican Republic. Magallanes plays the loser of Game 2 on Sunday.
Magallanes featured Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia, who had an RBI double, and reliever Jean Machi, who threw a scoreless eighth inning. Machi pitched for the Giants and Red Sox last season.
But it was Molina who set the tone for Lara, allowing a run in the first inning. That was the only damage he encouraged. He scattered six hits and struck out five.
The Cardenales, held without a baserunner the first two innings, broke through for four runs on five hits off Magallanes' starter Bobby Blevins in the third inning. Juniel Querecuto's leadoff triple set in motion the big inning, where nine came to the plate.
Rubi Silva had an RBI fielder's choice, and Maikol Gonzalez's run-scoring double gave Lara a 2-1 lead. Ildemaro Vargas reached on a bunt single, and a third run scored on Blevins' throwing error. Carlos Rivero's two-out RBI single prompted a pitching change, with Carlos Monasterious replacing Blevins, who exited after 44 pitches.
Magallanes jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning on Garcia's two-out RBI double to left. Garcia, the third baseman for the Atlanta Braves, drove home Ronny Cedeno, who doubled with two outs.
In the fifth inning, Lara capitalized on two errors, and scored two unearned runs. Jairo Perez had an RBI double in the inning, which put the Cardenales ahead, 6-1.
"We got down 1-0 in the first inning, and thought it was going to be a tough game," Dorante said. "But we settled down. We played our game. We were aggressive on the bases and made things happen. It was a credit to our players."