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Stanton’s homer, Jones’ leap carry US into WBC semifinals

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton hit a go-ahead homer and the United States eliminated the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic, beating the defending champions 6-3 Saturday night to earn a spot in the semifinals.

Stanton’s two-run shot into the third-floor balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left-field corner at Petco Park gave the United States a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning. It put a charge into the sellout crowd of 43,002 and helped send the Americans to the championship round at Dodger Stadium, where they will face Japan in a semifinal game Tuesday night.

Three innings later, San Diego native Adam Jones made a spectacular, leaping catch over the fence in the deepest part of the park in right-center to rob Baltimore Orioles teammate Manny Machado of a home run. Machado tipped his helmet to Jones.

Robinson Cano then homered to left to pull the Dominican Republic to 4-3.

Andrew McCutchen gave Team USA some breathing room with a two-run double in the eighth, and Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect ninth to close it out.

This is the second time in four editions of the WBC that the United States has advanced to the semifinals. It lost to Japan in 2009.

The Dominican players, who rallied to beat the United States one week earlier in Miami in the first round, will disperse back to big league camps. They finished 1-2 in the second round after going 3-0 in the opening round.

Brandon Crawford hit a two-out single to left-center ahead of Stanton’s homer, which was estimated at 403 feet and chased Dominican starter Ervin Santana.

Stanton’s shot was reminiscent of his Home Run Derby victory at Petco Park on July 11, when he peppered the far reaches of the big downtown ballpark, including hitting one onto the top of the 108-year-old brick warehouse.

Earlier on Saturday, Puerto Rico completed a 3-0 run through Pool F by beating Venezuela 13-2. Puerto Rico clinched first place in the pool with a 6-5 victory against the United States on Friday night and will play the Netherlands in the semifinals Monday night at Dodger Stadium. The championship game is Wednesday night.

The Dominicans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by Cano and an RBI single by Carlos Santana. One run was unearned due to Crawford’s throwing error at shortstop. Crawford threw out Nelson Cruz trying to score on Starling Marte‘s grounder, though.

The United States tied it in the third on Ian Kinsler‘s RBI grounder and Christian Yelich‘s run-scoring double.

The Dominicans had three more scoring chances but failed each time.

Gregory Polanco singled and Welington Castillo doubled to open the second before Danny Duffy retired the side.

They threatened again in the fifth when Machado hit a leadoff single to chase Duffy. Cruz hit a one-out double off Pat Neshek, who then retired Carlos Santana on a popup and struck out Marte. Neshek pumped his fists as he walked off the mound.

Duffy allowed two runs, one earned, and six hits in four-plus innings. He struck out one and walked one.

Santana gave up four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked none.

Dave Martinez: “I don’t know what else to do”

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One night after losing to the Cubs on a two-out, two-strike, down-three, pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam to the Cubs, the Washington Nationals were in a barn-burner against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nats were down 1-0, then up 4-2, then down 6-4 following a big Cardinals rally in the eighth, capped by a big Matt Carpenter home run, before somehow getting up off the mat and tying things back up at 6 in the top of the ninth inning. The bullpen has been bad, but even shaky relievers are successful more often than we imagine them to be. Having lost two of the previous three due to bullpen hiccups, there was no special reason to think that they’d lose late once again.

Koda Glover took the mound and attempted to close things out. He got ahead of Paul DeJong 1-0 and then promptly threw three balls. Not wanting to put the winning run on first base to lead off the inning, Glover threw a fastball right over the plate and then watched DeJong deposit it over the left field fence and into the bullpen to give the Nats their second walkoff loss in around 24 hours:

After Sunday’s game Nats players and coaches all gave the usual “gotta forget this one and move on to the next game” quotes. After last night’s loss, however, rookie manager Dave Martinez said this: “I don’t know what else to do.”

That answer came in response to the cratering of Sammy Solis in that ugly eighth inning, but it might as well apply to any of the Nats relievers or, for that matter, the Nationals as a team. It’s a lost, floundering group, seven games back in the National League East and six back in the Wild Card race with a mob of teams in front of them. They have lost 21 one-run games and there is absolutely no one down in that pen that Dave Martinez can count on at the moment.

Closer Sean Doolittle has been on the disabled list for weeks and weeks. Kelvin Herrera is on the disabled list with shoulder problems. Ryan Madson, who gave up David Bote‘s grand slam on Sunday, said afterward that he is hurt and could very well hit the disabled list soon. GM Mike Rizzo shipped Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley out of town for allegedly being malcontents. That leaves Glover, Solis, Matt Grace, Greg Holland, Wander Suero and, I guess, thoughts and prayers for Martinez to turn to.

In his place I wouldn’t know what else to do either.