MIAMI (MLB.com) -- And now there is one.
Erick Aybar came off the bench for the Dominican Republic in the ninth inning on Thursday night at Marlins Park and drove home Nelson Cruz with a pinch-hit single off Craig Kimbrel, sending the D.R. on to a 3-1 victory over Team USA.
With that, the undefeated D.R. secured a spot in the World Baseball Classic semifinals at AT&T Park, either against two-time defending Classic champion Japan on Sunday or the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Monday.
The U.S. has one more shot. The Americans play Puerto Rico on Friday at 7 p.m. ET to determine the second survivor from Pool 2.
Seeding for the pool will be decided in a 1 p.m. game on Saturday. The top seed plays the Dutch, who have never advanced this far in the tournament, and the second seed faces the Japanese. The championship contest is Tuesday at San Francisco.
"Both clubs played well, both clubs had great pitching, and they beat us," Team USA manager Joe Torre said. "They earned their victory and they beat a heck of a pitcher coming out of that bullpen."
In the big ninth-inning rally, Cruz opened with a double to right and then went to third on a Carlos Santana groundout. Aybar batted for Ricardo Nanita and lined a single to right, scoring Cruz. Aybar stole second as Alejandro De Aza struck out and then scored a single by Jose Reyes.
Even before the game started, the Americans lost third baseman David Wright. Their hottest hitter with a .438 batting average and a tournament-leading 10 RBIs was scratched from the lineup because of soreness on his left-side rib cage toward the back. He is being examined by the Mets on Friday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and is questionable for the rest of the tournament.
Wright was replaced at third by Willie Bloomquist, who had an inconsequential throwing error in the game.
The U.S. had an early offensive threat, loading the bases off Dominican starter Samuel Deduno in the first inning. The Americans scored first when Deduno walked Eric Hosmer to force home Brandon Phillips. But Adam Jones whiffed looking to end the inning. Deduno settled down and allowed only three more baserunners and five hits in his four innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey, making his second start of the tournament, looked sharp. He mowed down the first four batters with his trademark knuckleball dancing. But with one out in the second, Dickey hung one to Hanley Ramirez, the former Marlin and current Dodger, who crushed his second homer of the tournament above the 427-foot sign in left-center, tying the score at 1-1.
Dickey worked five innings, allowing five hits and the one run. He struck out four and walked one.