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Cuba, Puerto Rico earn Caribbean Series wins

MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- The Caribbean Series began Friday, with games between Cuba and Venezuela during the afternoon and a Mexico-Puerto Rico matchup in the nightcap.

GAME 1

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- The Caribbean Series began Friday, with games between Cuba and Venezuela during the afternoon and a Mexico-Puerto Rico matchup in the nightcap.

GAME 1

The Cuban team, seeking its first Caribbean Series title since 2015, defeated Venezuela, 6-4, in the first game of the Caribbean Series on Friday.

President Clinton on hand for first pitch

Cuba center fielder Roel Santos led off the bottom of the first with a single, advanced to third on an error and scored on a single by shortstop Yordan Manduley to give his team an early 1-0 lead. Manduley scored on a double by the next batter, right fielder Yurisbel Gracial, to put the Cuban team up, 2-0, three batters into the game.

Baltimore's Luis Sardinas scored Venezuela's first run in the third inning, and designated hitter Luis Jimenez tied the score at 2 with a solo home run to right field.

Cuba scored again, this time on a sacrifice fly by Gracial that scored third baseman Raul Gonzalez in the fifth. Santos and Manduley each scored in the seventh inning to extend Cuba's lead to 5-2.

Caribbean Series scoreboard

Venezuela scored a run in the eighth on an RBI single by Balbino Fuenmayor, who signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals last month, and another run in the ninth, but Raidel Martinez struck out Jimenez with the bases loaded to end the game.

Venezuela will play the Dominican Republic's Aguilas Cibaenas on Saturday afternoon followed by Cuba against Mexico on Saturday night.

The game Saturday will be the first for the Aguilas in this year's tournament. Overall, the club has won five Caribbean Series titles (1997, '98, 2001, '03 and '07). A team from the Dominican Republic has won the most championships with 19.

Caribbean Series info

Venezuela's last Caribbean Series title came in 2009.

NOTABLE PERFORMER

The Cuban team racked up 12 hits in the victory and was led by Gracial, who finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs. The outfielder set the tone for the offense early in the first inning.

PLAY OF THE GAME

Venezuela third baseman Niuman Romero made an outstanding defensive play on a hard-hit ball down the line off the bat of Cuban catcher Yulexis La Rosa to start the seventh inning. Romero dove to his right, fielded the ball and fired it across the diamond to complete the play. The crowd roared when the umpire called La Rosa out at first base.

Romero signed with the Indians in 2002 and made his Major League debut seven years later. He also played in two big league games with Boston in 2010. Romero also played in the Minors for the Mets, Blue Jays, Phillies, Tigers, A's and Orioles.

GAME 2

Puerto Rico, the defending Caribbean Series champion, is back in the win column once again.

On Friday night, Puerto Rico broke a tie against Mexico with three runs in the eighth inning to propel the island to a 7-4 victory in the first game of the series for both teams.

Tied at 4, Anthony Garcia led off the eighth inning with a double for Puerto Rico and later scored on a double by David Vidal to put his team ahead. Vidal later scored on a wild pitch, and Dayron Varon capped the scoring with an RBI triple that brought Ruben Gotay home.

Puerto Rico jumped on top early, scoring twice in the second inning and tacking on another run in the top of the third on Garcia's first double, giving the team a 3-1 lead.

Mexico's Sebastian Elizalde scored the team's second run of the game in the third and drove in two more runs in the fourth to give Mexico a 4-3 lead. But Puerto Rico knotted the score in the fifth.

Puerto Rico is off Saturday and will resume play Sunday against the Dominican Republic. Cuba (1-0) will take on Mexico (0-1) on Saturday night.

NOTABLE PERFORMER

Garcia had a fine night at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs. The right fielder signed with the Cardinals in 2009 and now is in the A's organization.

PLAY OF THE GAME

In the third inning, Garcia attempted to steal home but was tagged out by Mexico catcher Gabriel Gutierrez to end the inning. The play was challenged and the call on the field was upheld.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.