SAN FRANCISCO -- Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena predicted the country's streets would be empty Tuesday evening, with the entire population inside watching his team play Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic championship.
No doubt they're rocking now.
The Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico, 3-0, in front of a lively crowd of 35,703 at AT&T Park to become the first team to win the WBC without dropping a game in the tournament. The Dominicans finished the tournament 8-0.
A steady rain that began falling in the third inning hardly dampened the spirits of the Dominican supporters -- including a cluster down the third-base line that banged drums and blew horns throughout the game -- or their team.
Closer Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays, the bill of his cap pulled rakishly to the left, pitched around a leadoff error in the ninth and struck out Andy Gonzalez for the final out to secure his eighth career WBC save -- most in the tournament's history -- and bring the Dominican team into a celebration near the mound.
Befitting the level of familiarity and respect between the neighboring countries, the teams then converged along the first-base line and exchanged handshakes and hugs. Both teams had reached the WBC final for the first time.
As they had all tournament, the Dominicans relied on strong pitching in the final. Starter Samuel Deduno, a right-hander who made 15 starts last season for the Minnesota Twins, allowed just two singles in five scoreless innings before giving way to the team's loaded bullpen.
The Dominican pitching staff allowed a total of 14 runs in its eight games. Its bullpen finished the tournament on a run of 25 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, beginning in its opening-round win over Puerto Rico in San Juan.
Puerto Rico put two runners on with nobody out in the seventh against Octavio Dotel. But Pedro Strop, who did not allow a run in six appearances in the tournament, struck out Carlos Rivera and Andy Gonzalez and got Jesus Feliciano to pop out in foul territory to third baseman Miguel Tejada, who left his feet to make the catch.
Puerto Rico also put the tying run on base in the fifth in a 2-0 game with two outs and Giants center fielder Angel Pagan at the plate. But Deduno, on his final pitch of the night, got Pagan swinging at a two-strike breaking ball to end the inning and pumped his fist as he bounded off the mound.
Pagan walked back to the dugout barking in Deduno's direction, one instance of the emotion that permeated the all-Caribbean final and the demonstrative playing styles of the two teams.
Jose Reyes led off the game for the Dominican Republic with a double and clapped emphatically as he slid into second base, gesturing toward the Dominican dugout. Reyes later scored along with Robinson Cano -- whom Puerto Rico walked intentionally with one out and Reyes on third -- on a double by Edwin Encarnacion, which brought the Dominican team bounding out of the dugout to greet them at the plate.
The Dominicans added a run in the fifth, when ninth hitter Alejandro De Aza singled and scored on a double by Erick Aybar.
An equally emphatic Puerto Rico cheering section behind the first-base dugout waved flags and banged cowbells, but could coax little out of their team, which did not record a hit with a runner on base. Puerto Rico, which reached the WBC final for the first time, finished 5-4 in the tournament, with three of their losses coming to the Dominicans.
Before the game managers from each team described the rivalry between the teams as intense but governed by respect. The nations met once in all three rounds in this WBC, with the Dominicans also winning 4-2 on March 10 and 2-0 on March 16.
To reach the final, Puerto Rico knocked off two-time champion Japan in the semifinal round, while the Dominican Republic avenged its first-round exit in the last tournament by ousting the Netherlands, which defeated it twice in 2009.
For a nation that has sent a total of 472 players to Major League Baseball -- including all nine members of its starting lineup Tuesday -- Pena said the impact of hoisting the WBC trophy would be immense. The Dominican Republic has sent more foreign-born players to MLB than any other country.
"The whole country will be watching the ballgame, because in the Dominican Republic, the number one pastime is baseball," Pena said before the game.
"Whenever you see this ballclub play, they play with a lot of emotion, because it is our culture. It is what we live for. In the Dominican Republic, all little kids that are growing up, they want to be a baseball player."