MIAMI — Gio Gonzalez gave Team USA its best start yet, and David Wright provided a big finish.
Gonzalez pitched five scoreless innings and the Americans beat Puerto Rico 7-1 in the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.
Wright drove in five runs, the last three with a bases-loaded double in the eighth. That prompted chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” from the crowd of 32,872.
The United States fell behind in all three games in the opening round, but led from the first inning against Puerto Rico. The Americans will play Thursday night against the Dominican Republic, which remained unbeaten in the WBC by rallying past Italy 5-4 on Tuesday.
Puerto Rico plays Italy in an elimination game Wednesday.
Gonzalez (1-0), who grew up in nearby Hialeah, struck out five for the hometown team and departed with a 3-0 lead. Manager Joe Torre then went to his bullpen, and five relievers combined to allow one run over the final four innings.
Gonzalez lowered the ERA of the U.S. rotation to 4.00.
Wright had an RBI groundout in the third and a run-scoring single in the fifth. He’s 7 for 16 (.438) with 10 RBIs in four games.
Joe Mauer’s two-out RBI double scored Ryan Braun with the first U.S. run in the opening inning. The Americans added a run in the third on singles by Brandon Phillips and Braun and Wright’s RBI groundout.
Adam Jones had a two-run RBI single in the seventh.
Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton earned a big cheer from the Miami crowd when he made a running catch at the warning track to rob Martin Maldonado of a two-out, two-RBI hit in the fourth inning. Stanton also singled twice and walked.
Braun and Mauer each reached base four times.
Puerto Rico starter Mario Santiago (0-1) allowed three runs in 4 1-3 innings. Angel Pagan’s drove in Puerto Rico’s run in the eighth.