Fearsome lineup, check. Multiple quality bullpen pieces, check. Stud starting pitcher who is close to untouchable, double check.
The Dodgers certainly have the ingredients usually associated with winning the World Series, and Friday night those elements were on display in a statement game of sorts against these underdog Rays.
Walker Buehler’s performance resonated the loudest. The right-hander fired six brilliant innings, allowing only one run, in the Dodgers’ 6-2 victory in Game 3 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Justin Turner and Austin Barnes each homered on a night when the Dodgers jumped on Charlie Morton early and then eased into the later innings.
The 26-year-old Buehler became the first pitcher in World Series history to strike out at least 10 batters in a start of six innings or fewer. It followed his gem in Game 6 of the NLCS against the Braves, in which he fired six shutout innings. Buehler has pitched to a 1.50 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 25 innings in his five starts this postseason.
The Dodgers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and plan to send left-hander Julio Urias to the mound Saturday against either Ryan Yarbrough or an opener.
The Rays used Brandon Lowe’s two home runs in Game 2 to even the series, but were less successful against Buehler, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol and Kenley Jansen on Friday. The Dodgers moved within two victories of their first World Series title since 1988.
Willy Adames delivered a two-out RBI double in the fifth that gave the Rays their only run against Buehler. Manuel Margot’s double earlier in the inning was the Rays’ first hit against the right-hander. The Dodgers got the run back in their next at-bat, on Barnes’ solo homer against John Curtiss.
Randy Arozarena homered against Jansen in the ninth for the game’s final run. The blast was Arozarena’s eighth this postseason, tying a record shared by Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz.
Morton had pitched to a 2.84 ERA in his previous 12 postseason appearances, but was jumped almost from the start on this night.
Turner launched a homer against the right-hander in the first inning, and the Dodgers didn’t stop until they had scored five runs on seven hits against Morton, who was removed with one out in the fifth.
Barnes’ safety squeeze in the fourth extended the Dodgers’ lead to 4-0. Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson each singled in the inning to put runners on the corners before Barnes pushed a bunt to first base that brought in the run. Before the inning concluded, the Dodgers scored a fifth run against Morton, on Mookie Betts’ RBI single.
Max Muncy’s two-run single in the third put the Rays in a 3-0 hole. Morton had started the inning strongly enough, striking out Barnes and Betts in succession, but he plunked Corey Seager before Turner’s double put runners on second and third. Muncy followed with a shot to right-center that brought in both runs.
Turner’s home run was his 11th in the postseason, tying the franchise record established by Duke Snider (who hit all of his in the World Series in 149 fewer plate appearances than Turner).
Turner and Barnes both homered with the roof closed on a chilly night that included rain in the forecast. Before the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash estimated the closed roof would decrease the carry of balls hit to the outfield by 10-15 feet.
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