Corey Seager smashed a two-run homer as the Texas Rangers bounced back to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 on Monday and take a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
Seager blasted a 421-foot home run over right field in the top of the third inning after Marcus Semien had driven in a run for Nathaniel Lowe earlier in the inning.
The Diamondbacks had routed Texas 9-1 in Arlington on Saturday to level the best-of-seven World Series.
But it was a different story on Monday as Major League Baseball’s showpiece final returned to Arizona for game three.
The Rangers suffered an early blow when starter Max Scherzer was pulled from the mound after just 36 scoreless pitches with an apparent back injury.
That forced Jon Gray — tabbed as the Rangers starter in game four — to come out of the bullpen to take over.
Gray preserved the Rangers three-run lead with three scoreless innings and the Texas pitchers continued to stay on top.
“He was the hero tonight,” Seager said of Gray. “He came out and gave us some really big innings — he kept them off balance, he put up zeros and that’s exactly what we needed in that moment.”
Gray meanwhile said he had taken a “one pitch at a time” approach after being unexpectedly pressed into action after Scherzer’s injury.
“One pitch at a time, focus on the execution, do your job and let everything else take of itself,” Gray said.
“I knew that coming out of the bullpen things can happen really fast. So it was all about trying to slow things down and taking my time.”
Rangers reliever Josh Sborz struck out two batters before Aroldis Chapman took over in the eighth inning.
Arizona finally threatened to build some momentum in the bottom of the eighth when Geraldo Perdomo’s single to left field sent Emmanuel Rivera racing over home plate to cut the deficit to 3-1.
But the Diamondbacks’ rally was halted in its tracks after a deft piece of glove work from Seager set up a double play that ended the inning with Perdomo out at second and Ketel Marte out at first.
Texas’s line-up were unable to add to the lead in the ninth inning which left Rangers closer Jose Leclerc tasked with making the final three outs.
Leclerc duly took care of business, with Gabriel Moreno grounding out before striking out Christian Walker and Tommy Pham to end the game.
Game four takes place in Phoenix on Tuesday.
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