SAN DIEGO -- Frederich Cepeda isn't in the World Baseball Classic for stats, although he certainly has some spectacular ones.
"I think that the main objective here is the team," Cepeda said after his smoking-hot bat helped Cuba stick around in the WBC with a 7-4 victory against Mexico in an elimination game on Monday night. "And if we can move forward to the next stage, that would be the best I could take out of this classic."
Cepeda was 3-for-4 with a walk and four RBI, including a bases-clearing double in the fifth inning. He's tied for the lead in the WBC with a .600 average (12-for-20) and tops all WBC batters with 10 RBI.
The game drew a crowd of only 9,329 to 42,000-seat Petco Park, even though San Diego is just across the border from Tijuana and three members of the Padres play for Mexico.
Cuba will play another elimination game Wednesday night against the loser of a Tuesday night game between Japan and South Korea. The Japan-South Korea winner will qualify for the semifinals Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
Cuba made it to the championship game of the inaugural WBC in 2006 at Petco Park before losing 10-6 to
Cuba starter Norge Luis Vera left the game during the bottom of the fifth when he appeared to hurt his right calf. Vera's right leg buckled on his follow-through after a pitch to
Vera (2-0) went 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and three hits while striking out five and walking two.
With the score tied at 2, Cuba loaded the bases in the fifth on two singles and a walk before Cepeda doubled to the base of the wall in right-center off
"I think that Frederich is important, not only his turn at bat, but in every aspect of the game," said Pedro Lazo, who pitched the final 4 1/3 innings in relief of Vera. "He said, 'Don't worry, we're winning,' and then he pulls through."
Yoennis Cespedes added a two-run triple in the seventh.
Campillo (1-1) allowed five runs and eight hits in four innings.
Yulieski Gourriel singled in Cuba's first run in the first and Cepeda hit an RBI single in the third.
"I think that we didn't do the small things," Presichi said. "Unfortunately, we did not do the things we had to."
Mexico's offense struggled in two games at Petco Park.
"This is a difficult park, if not the most difficult in the majors. Mexico is a power team and we didn't do it."
Mexico also got runs on Sandoval's single in the third and
Mexico finished 2-4 in the WBC, with two losses to Cuba.