D.R. wins fifth straight, clinches title

D.R. wins fifth straight, clinches title

CAROLINA, P.R. -- Their red, white and blue uniforms read "Dominicano Soy," Spanish for "I am Dominican," but there is one word missing from the jerseys.

Campeon, the Spanish word for champion.

After Tuesday afternoon's 5-3 win over Mexico coupled with Puerto Rico's 3-1 loss to Venezuela in the nightcap, the undefeated team from Dominican Republic is the official winner of the 2007 Caribbean Series with one game to play.

The title is the first for Dominican Republic since 2004 and comes as no surprise, considering the club has outscored its opponents, 37-7. The Dominican Republic (5-0) wraps up round-robin play Wednesday night against Puerto Rico (3-2).

The Dominican Republic has now won 16 titles, the most by any one country in Caribbean Series history. The Dominican Republic has won seven out of the last 11 Caribbean Series.

"We played good baseball, and Mexico gave a good effort," Dominican Republic manager Felix Fermin said after the game against Mexico. "As everybody saw, the game was decided in the final innings, which says Mexico played tremendous baseball. We give credit to them, and to our team for the victory."

Before Puerto Rico's loss, Fermin politely declined to talk about the possible championship and reiterated the fact that his club has one more game to play.

That has likely changed. The victory put Fermin in the history books as the manager with the most Caribbean Series titles with the three. Fermin and his team did not stay to watch the Puerto Rico-Venezuela contest.

As for Mexico (0-5), which won the 2005 title, the club has now lost 11 consecutive Caribbean Series games.

"There are some things out of our control," Mexico manager Lorenzo Bundy said. "We won the championship in Hermosillo with our players, and I had control of who played. But here, some players do not get the permission, and others decide for some reason they do not want to play. I cannot control who is here. That said, we have a good team. What you have seen the last two nights is a good Mexican team, but we have not been at our best."

He's right. But his team made it a contest.

With the score tied at 2 in the seventh inning, Dominican Republic outfielder Nelson Cruz walked with the bases loaded to score Luis Polonia and put his team ahead, 3-2. Jose Fernandez followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right field off Pablo Ortega to score Miguel Tejada, extending the lead to two runs.

The teams exchanged runs in the eighth inning, but the deficit was too big for Mexico to overcome.

The Dominican Republic wasted little time on Tuesday.

Second baseman Anderson Hernandez walked to lead off the game and motored to second base on a single by Polonia. Hernandez scored on a double by Tejada for a 1-0 lead.

  Mexico tied the game in the top of the second inning when Luis Garcia trotted home on a single by Vinny Castilla off starter Jose Capellan. Garcia had led off the inning with a double.

The early tie disappeared quickly.

In the third, Dominican Republic first baseman Jose Fernandez delighted the crowd with a monstrous home run that sailed high above the left-field wall and smacked the area between the clock and the sign for Estadio Municipal Roberto Clemente Walker on the scoreboard.

But Fernandez was not the only star of the afternoon.

Capellan, a reliever for the Brewers, also shined, halting the Mexican offense for three consecutive innings after allowing a run in the second. But his roll stopped when Jon Weber hit a single to start the sixth inning. Erubiel Durazo popped out, but the next batter, Garcia, hit what appeared to be an ordinary single to center field.

It wasn't.

Weber scooted around second base and slid safely into third, just ahead of Alex Fernandez's throw. In one of the few mistakes of the series for the Dominican Republic, third baseman Tony Batista fielded the throw and then immediately launched the ball toward second base in an attempt to get a sprinting Garcia. The throw went wild, and Weber scored to tie the game at 2.

"This is a short series. Teams can get hot, and teams can get cold," Mexico catcher Adan Amezcua said. "In baseball, anything can happen. And you have seen that. Hot players get cold, but we have not played our best."

   He's right. The team from the Dominican Republic has.

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.