MIAMI -- Officially, Puerto Rico's 10-0 victory over Israel in the World Baseball Classic on Monday night will not enter the record books as a perfect game, even though four pitchers combined to retire all 24 hitters they faced in the mercy-rule win.

"It's perfect for us," said starter Jose De Leon, whose 5.2 brilliant innings spearheaded the best performance of the Classic from the two-time runners-up and sets up an epic matchup against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday in which the winner is expected to advance and the loser likely will bow out after pool play.

Puerto Rico capped its win Monday with an Enrique Hernández walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning, sending its players catapulting onto the field in celebration. At the heart of the victory was the 30-year-old De Leon, a one-time top prospect whose career has been waylaid by injuries.

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Currently on a minor league deal with the Minnesota Twins, his sixth team, De Leon carved through the lineup that included veteran outfielder Joc Pederson.


On 64 pitches, one shy of the limit in pool play, De Leon threw 42 strikes and worked around four three-ball counts to tie a WBC record with 10 strikeouts.

When Puerto Rico manager Yadier Molina pulled De Leon for reliever Yacksel Rios with two outs in the sixth inning because of the pitch limits, catcher Martin Maldonado said he told Ríos to pitch like it was a 0-0 game and that he received a curious look back. Only after the game, Maldonado said, did Rios admit that he didn't know it was a perfect game.

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