By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Mookie Betts came to the Dodgers to make a World Series difference. With a mad dash to home plate, he put Los Angeles over the top.
The end of a frustrating championship drought for LA — and perhaps just the start for Betts and the Dodgers.
Betts bolted from third for the go-ahead run on Corey Seager’s infield grounder in the sixth and led off the eighth with a punctuating homer, and the Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6 at Arlington’s Globe Life Field to claim their first championship since 1988.
The Dodgers had played 5,014 regular season games and were in their 114th postseason game since Orel Hershiser struck out Oakland’s Tony Phillips for the final out of the World Series in 1988, the same year veteran lefty Clayton Kershaw — the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner who won Games 1 and 5 of this Series — was born in nearby Dallas.
Kershaw was warming in the bullpen when Julio Urias struck out Willy Adames to end it and ran alongside teammates to celebrate in the infield — many players and coaches still wearing face masks at the end of a season played out amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Los Angeles had come up short in the World Series twice in the previous three years. And Betts was on the other side two years ago with the Boston Red Sox, who before this season traded the 2018 AL MVP to the Dodgers. They later gave him a $365 million, 12-year extension that goes until he turns 40 in 2032.
Betts’ 3.2-second sprint was just enough to beat the throw by first baseman Ji-Man Choi, pushing Los Angeles ahead 2-1 moments after Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled ace left-hander Blake Snell despite a dominant performance over 5 1/3 innings.
Randy Arozarena, the powerful Tampa Bay rookie, extended his postseason record with his 10th homer in the first off rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin, the first of seven Dodgers pitchers. The Rays never got another runner past second base as LA’s bullpen gave reliever-reliant Tampa Bay a taste of its own medicine.
About 2 1/2 weeks after the Lakers won the NBA title while finishing their season in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Dodgers gave Los Angeles another championship in this year when the novel coronavirus pandemic has delayed, shortened and moved around sports seasons.