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Dirks gets to play hero as Leones win crown

Tigers outfielder helps Escogido clinch title in Dominican Republic

Dominican Winter League

Escogido 6, Cibaenas 5
Detroit Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks set the stage for an exciting Caribbean Series on Monday when his late-game heroics helped the Leones clinch the Dominican Winter League championship in dramatic fashion. The former eighth-round Draft pick plated the tying run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and he delivered a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in the final game of the best-of-9 set.

Mauro Gomez smacked a solo homer and Pablo Ozuna reached base safely three times, plated a run and scored once in the triumph. Fernando Rodney (Rays) earned his second win of the Championship Series, despite blowing the lead in the top of the ninth. Aneury Rodriguez (Astros) earlier pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief of Jordan Norberto (A's), who surrendered four runs over 3 1/3 innings.

Aguilas starter Raul Valdes allowed a run on seven hits while fanning seven batters over six innings, but did not factor in the decision. Hector Luna (Phillies) and Jesse Gutierrez each went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the defeat. Miguel Tejada also went deep in the losing cause. Box score

The Caribbean Series gets under way Thursday, pitting the winners of the four Winter League winners against each other. Each team will play the other three squads twice, with the top two teams advancing to the championship Feb. 8. Obregon will represent the Mexican Pacific League after sweeping its best-of-7 series with Guasave; Aragua toppled La Guaira, 4-2, in the Venezuelan Winter League Championship Series; and Mayaguez triumphed over Caguas, 5-2, in the best-of-9 Puerto Rican Winter League Finals.