Arizona pitcher Merrill Kelly struck out nine and scattered three hits over seven innings to spark the Diamondbacks over Texas 9-1 on Saturday and level the World Series.
Gabriel Moreno smashed a solo home run and Ketel Marte drove in two runs with a record-setting single as Arizona equalized Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final at 1-1 with game three in Phoenix on Monday.
Kelly, a 35-year-old right-hander, spent four seasons in the South Korean league, dreaming of such a dominating effort, before joining Arizona in 2019.
“I dreamed of it but at that point all it was was a dream,” Kelly said. “It took a lot of hard work, a lot of being in the right place. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Arizona organization for giving me a chance.
“I’m just glad we got it done.”
Kelly surrendered a solo homer to Mitch Garver in the fifth inning but otherwise baffled Texas batters while Diamondbacks hitters struck.
“If I execute, I’ve got a pretty good chance,” Kelly said.
The Rangers, in their first World Series since 2011, seek the club’s first MLB crown since it began play in 1961 while the Diamondbacks won their only title in 2001 in their only prior World Series appearance.
Marte broke the MLB all-time playoff hit streak record by stretching his run to 18 games with a two-run single in the eighth inning.
The 30-year-old Dominican second baseman, whose post-season streak dates to 2017, had shared the old mark of 17 with Derek Jeter, Hank Bauer and Manny Ramirez.
Moreno crushed his fourth homer of the playoffs, a solo blast over the centerfield wall, to open the scoring in the fourth inning.
With two outs, Tommy Pham doubled down the right-field line and scored on a single by Lourdes Gurriel to give the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead.
After Garver’s homer, the D-backs answered in the seventh when Alek Thomas doubled and scored on an Evan Longoria single. Corbin Carroll followed with a single that drove in Longoria and Arizona led 4-1.
In the eighth, Pham singled and walks to Emmanuel Rivera and Geraldo Perdomo loaded the bases with two outs for Marte, who singled in two runs and set the hit streak record. Carroll followed with a single to bring in Perdomo and Arizona led 7-1.
Rivera added a two-run single in the ninth to create the final margin.
Garcia streaks ended
Adolis Garcia, who blasted a game-winning solo homer in the 11th inning to deliver Texas a fightback victory in the opener, went hitless in game two, going 0-for-3 at the plate.
The 30-year-old Cuban outfielder has set a one-season playoff record with 22 runs during the 2023 post-season and his eight homers this year are two off the one-season playoff record 10 homers by Randy Arozarena in 2020.
But his streak of seven consecutive playoff games with at least one RBI was snapped one shy of the post-season record, Ryan Howard’s eight-game run in 2009.
Garcia’s streak of homers in five consecutive playoff games also ended one shy of the MLB post-season record, a six-game run by Daniel Murphy in 2015.
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