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Santana drills solo homer to lift Dominican Republic

Santana drills solo homer to lift Dominican Republic

MIAMI -- Carlos Santana struck when his country needed him most.

Santana broke open a shutout at the World Baseball Classic on Saturday with a long home run, propelling the Dominican Republic to what became a 2-0 win over Puerto Rico. Santana's home run helped the D.R. earn the top seed from its bracket in the semifinals. Puerto Rico is the second seed out of Pool 2.

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"I feel very happy because of the support we've gotten," said Santana after the win. "Now we're going to San Francisco to win the crown. We're a small island, but we produce good fruit. We have great players and they are showing what they can do."

Santana, 26, is a native of Santo Domingo and was originally signed by the Dodgers in 2004. He was traded to Cleveland with Jon Meloan in exchange for Casey Blake in 2008, and he's been solidly entrenched as the Indians' catcher for each of the last two seasons.

Wandy Rodriguez and Orlando Roman had each thrown four shutout innings on Saturday, and Santana homered deep to right field to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. The game remained tight through the sixth inning, and Rodriguez allowed just two hits in keeping Puerto Rico scoreless.

Santana, a switch-hitter, is a .233 hitter with 39 home runs in 811 at-bats against righties in the big leagues and a .278 hitter with 12 homers in 396 at-bats against lefties. His home run Saturday came against Roman, a right-hander who spent last year with Yakult in Japan's Central League.

"He had thrown me a lot of changeups," Santana said. "And I basically waited for another one."

But the home run was huge for this reason -- the winner of Saturday's game, the Dominican Republic will be the top seed of Pool 2 and will face The Kingdom of the Netherlands on Monday at 9 p.m. ET on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes. Puerto Rico, the second seed, will make the cross-country flight to face Japan on Sunday at AT&T Park.

"We're not thinking about revenge," said Santana. "We just want to win."

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

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