MAX Muncy hit a towering home run in the fifth after Clayton Kershaw escaped a jam to protect a one-run lead an inning prior as the Los Angeles (LA) Dodgers moved a win away from ending their 32-year championship drought with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night at Arlington, Texas.
Joc Pederson also homered as the Dodgers rebounded from a disastrous walk-off loss in Game 4 just 24 hours prior. Kershaw (4-1) gave up two runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two.
Victor Gonzalez stranded two Rays in the eighth to protect the lead, and Blake Treinen fanned two after a leadoff single in the ninth to record the save and give Los Angeles the opportunity to close out the best-of-seven series Tuesday.
Trailing 3-2 in the fourth, the Rays had a prime chance to get to Kershaw when Manuel Margot walked to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a missed catch by Chris Taylor on the throw. Hunter Renfroe followed with a walk to put runners on the corners.
After Joey Wendle popped out and Willy Adames struck out, Margot took a chance trying to steal home while Kershaw was mid-motion to the plate, but the left-hander got the ball to catcher Austin Barnes to narrowly beat Margot on the tag for the final out.
Muncy’s homer gave Los Angeles a two-run edge. He became the ninth different Dodger to go deep in the series.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kershaw surpassed Justin Verlander’s all-time record of 205 postseason strikeouts when he whiffed Kevin Kiermaier to begin the frame.
The Rays’ best chance to rally came in the eighth when red-hot rookie Randy Arozarena stepped in with two on and one out. Gonzalez got Arozarena to fly out and Brandon Lowe to line out to end the threat.
Los Angeles got off to a hot start against Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow, who labored in the first inning. A Mookie Betts double and Corey Seager single had the Dodgers up 1-0 just 10 pitches in, and Cody Bellinger made it 2-0 with an RBI single later in the frame.
Pederson homered to lead off the second for a 3-0 Los Angeles lead. The Rays cut their deficit to one on a Yandy Diaz run-scoring triple and Arozarena’s RBI single in the third.
The hit by Arozarena was his 27th of the playoffs to surpass Pablo Sandoval’s single postseason record set in 2014.
Glasnow (2-3) settled down and allowed four runs on six hits over five innings. He walked three, struck out seven and threw a World Series record three wild pitches.
KERSHAW SETS STRIKEOUT RECORD
Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw became the all-time leader in postseason strikeouts when he fanned Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier leading off the fifth inning of Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night.
Kershaw got Kiermaier swinging on a 1-2 fastball for the 206th punchout of his playoff career, passing Justin Verlander for No. 1 on the all-time list. He entered the game at 201 strikeouts after whiffing eight in Game 1 of the series being played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Kershaw matched Verlander’s total when he struck out Willy Adames on a curveball with runners on first and third and one out in the fourth inning with the score 3-2 Dodgers at the time. Kershaw got out of the jam when Manuel Margot was out trying to steal home one batter later.
Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young winner, entered Sunday’s contest 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts this postseason. The 32-year-old is still seeking the first World Series title of his 13-year career, all spent with the Dodgers.
Setting a record at Kershaw’s expense in the game Sunday was Rays rookie Randy Arozarena, whose RBI single in the third inning gave him 27 hits this postseason to surpass Pablo Sandoval’s single postseason record set in 2014. During these playoffs, Arozarena has also set single postseason records for home runs (nine) and total bases (58 entering Sunday). — Reuters