Host Puerto Rico got three runs in the bottom of the first inning and held off several Spanish rallies to beat Spain 3-0 Friday in San Juan, P.R.
Pitchers Carlos Alvarado, who pitches in Japan's NPB, and Hiram Burgos (Brewers) held Spain in check. Alvarado, the 35-year-old starter, gave up one hit and had four strikeouts while walking only one. Burgos gave up four hits and a walk, wriggling out of a pair of jams, before Xavier Cedeno (Astros) got the final out for the save.
Puerto Rico put up three runs in the first inning off former Astros farmhand Sergio Perez, a minor league free agent who battled his control. Angel Pagan (Giants) singled and scored on Carlos Beltran's double, and a sacrifice fly and bases-loaded walk brought in the other runs.
But Puerto Rico couldn't get more done. Lefthander Richard Salazar, a veteran of the independent American Association, relieved Perez in the third inning and shut Puerto Rico out over five two-hit innings, and Puerto Rico mustered just six hits on the night.
Nevertheless, the hosts are 1-0 and play a key game Saturday against Venezuela, which lost its WBC opener to the Dominican Republic. The heavily-favored DR plays Spain.