Dodgers get revenge, Walker Buehler tosses gem in Game 3 of World Series vs. Rays

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Los Angeles Dodgers were hoping to play the Houston Astros, to tell you the truth, seeking vengeance for the trophy they felt they were cheated out of in the 2017 World Series. 

Well, on this cool Friday night, with the roof closed, the Dodgers and their legion of fans did the next best thing.

They took out their hostilities on Tampa Bay Rays starter Charlie Morton, with the fans taunting him by chanting “cheater’’ from the stands, while the Dodgers’ hitters tormented him at the plate.

By the time the smoke cleared, the Dodgers rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Rays at Globe Life Field, seizing control of the World Series, leading 2 games to 1.

Dodgers ace Walker Buehler suffocated the Rays’ offense from start to finish, striking out four of the first five batters, flirting with a no-hitter for four innings, and permitted only three hits in six innings, striking out a postseason career-high 10 batters.

He’s only the third Dodgers’ pitcher to strike out at least 10 batters while three or fewer hits in the World Series, joining Sandy Koufax and Clayton Kershaw.

Walker Buehler strikes out 10 over six innings in Game 3. (Photo: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports)

In Buehler's two career World Series starts, he has given up just five hits and one run in 13 innings, striking out 17 with one walk. He also has struck out at least seven batters in each of his 11 postseason starts, the second-longest streak in postseason history behind only Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

He has started five games this postseason, the Dodgers have won four of them.

And if a Game 7 is needed, guess who’ll be back on the mound pitching on regular rest?

Gulp.

While Buehler was relentless on the mound, he took satisfaction from the bench, watching the Dodgers unload on Morton.

Morton was hardly one of the faces of the Astros’ cheating scandal. He’s a pitcher, not a hitter. He wasn’t getting any signs or trash-can banging to help him on the mound.

No matter, to the Dodgers, it was the next-best thing, remembering that he knew what was happening.

“I was aware of the banging,’’ Morton said this year. “You could hear the banging. Being in the dugout, you could hear it.’’

Well, the Dodgers made sure he could hear their bats, too, crashing his glorious postseason resume.

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They teed off on Morton by scoring five runs on seven hits, knocking him out of the game after just 4 ⅓ innings. How stunning was the assault? Morton was 5-0 with a 0.70 ERA in his previous five postseason starts with the Rays, tying a major-league record with Curt Schilling by winning five consecutive decisions and permitting one or fewer runs. He had given up a total of just four runs in those 25 ⅔ innings.

He gave up just five runs in four innings this night, giving up more hits in any of his starts since Aug. 10, 2019.

The Dodgers beat up the Rays with homers by Justin Turner and Austin Barnes, and scoring two runs in the fourth inning on three singles, a safety squeeze by Barnes and a stolen base.

It was the first time a player homered and had a run-scoring sacrifice squeeze in a World Series game since Hector Lopez of the New York Yankees in 1961.

The Dodgers now find themselves just two victories away from ending their 32-year World Series championship drought. It hardly compares to the Boston Sox’s 86-year curse that ended in 2004. Or the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year drought. But Roberts, who had the stolen base heard ‘round New England in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, certainly understands the magnitude.

“I don’t think there could be anymore to what we dealt with in Boston,’’ Roberts said. “That was a lot of burden to kind of inherit. Its more of an understanding with the great fan bases, and what it means when you take on a job that hasn’t won a championship in a while.

“I want it for all of us.’’

Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

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