Mookie Betts celebrates after his home run in the eighth inning during the Dodgers 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday. Eric Gay/Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas — 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 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.

“I just came to be a part of it. I’m just happy I could contribute,” Betts said

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.

“I’m not exactly sure why,” Betts said when asked about the move. “I’m not going to ask any questions. He was pitching a great game.”

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.

The MLB season didn’t start until late July and was abbreviated to 60 games for the shortest regular season since 1878. And the expanded postseason, with 16 teams making it instead of 10, almost went the full distance.

It ended when Urias got the last two out Tampa Bay batters on called third strikes – the 15th and 16 Ks by the Rays, with catcher Austin Barnes stuffing the last pitch in his back pocket. Along with the 11 strikeouts by the Dodgers, it was the most combined strikeouts in a nine-inning World Series game.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.