MAZATLAN, Mexico -- The Dominican Republic baseball machine cruised into the Caribbean Series a day late and with a cast of stars that would make most big-league managers jealous.
Miguel Tejada, Rafael Furcal, Miguel Batista and Jose Lima are just four of the 18 players on this 25-man roster who have played in the Major Leagues and the few who don't have big league experience yet will likely get it soon.
But pardon Venezuela if it were anything but star-struck. The pregame confidence it displayed as it strutted around Estadio Teodore Mariscal showed as much and the 7-5 win against the heavily favored Dominican team proved it.
The victory almost escaped them.
Trailing 7-0, Tejada hit a bases-clearing double with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth to prevent the shutout. Matt Cepicky, who played for the Expos last season, followed with a double that scored Tejada for the Domincan Republic's fourth run and came home for the club's fifth on another base hit.
The Dominicans would not score again, and the Venezuelans celebrated joyously following the third out.
Venezuelan right fielder Alex Romero was nearly hit in the head by a pitch in the second inning by Daniel Cabrera, who pitches for Baltimore. Romero then responded by blasting a two-run home run to right field two pitches later to put his team up, 2-0 and send the crowd into a frenzy. In the fifth, Romero was once again the catalyst for a two-run inning, but this time, he kept the ball in the park.
He led off the frame with a double and came home on Alexander Delgado's double, giving Venezuela a 3-0 advantage. Cepicky was charged with an error on the play when he failed to field the ball cleanly in right field.
A three-run lead is quite a task against the Dominican Republic, but Venezuela was just getting started.Later in the fifth, Venezuela's Luis Rodriguez ended Cabrera's afternoon with a run-scoring double to the gap in left center field that scored Delgado from second base to give Venezuela a comfortable lead 4-0.
Right-hander Emiliano Giron replaced Cabrera on the mound and retired Rene Reyes to end the inning, but the damage had been done and the upset was slowly becoming a reality.
As for Venezuela starter Josmir Romero, he was solid -- allowing six hits in 4 2/3 solid innings -- but the Dominican Republic did not go without scoring chances. Furcal led off the third inning with a double, but did not advance any farther. The very next inning, Dominican catcher Alberto Castillo reached on an error to load the bases with two outs but designated hitter Bernie Castro lined out to second base to end the inning.
Venezuela added three runs in the seventh to pull ahead 7-0.
The Dominicans (0-1) face Mexico (1-0) in the nightcap at 8 p.m. (local) Wednesday. Puerto Rico (0-0) and Venezuela (1-1) are scheduled to play at 4 p.m. (local).
The teams from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were originally scheduled to play each other Tuesday in the first game of the series but the Dominican team did not arrive in time because of travel complications.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.