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Peter Abraham: With World Series title, it’s mission accomplished for Mookie Betts: ‘I was traded for this reason’

ARLINGTON, Texas — All it took for the Los Angeles Dodgers to win their first World Series title in 32 years was seven pitchers and one Mookie.

Mookie Betts, who was acquired in February in a mega-deal with the Red Sox, keyed a sixth-inning surge Tuesday night then added a solo homer in the eighth as the Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1, in Game 6 to win the World Series, 4-2.

Betts, whose Red Sox beat the Los Angeles for the title two years ago, helped the Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since the Kirk Gibson-led Dodgers beat Oakland in 1988.

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Los Angeles pushed across their first two two runs after Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash pulled a dominant Blake Snell in the sixth inning, allowing the Dodgers to take the lead.

Cash came out to get Snell after No. 9 hitter Austin Barnes singled with one out. Snell had thrown just 73 pitches and it was just the Dodgers' second hit. The 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner looked as if he disagreed with the quick hook.

Betts then greeted righthander Nick Anderson with a double, and Barnes scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Betts scored on Corey Seager’s slow grounder to first baseman Ji-Man Choi, sliding headfirst and easily beating the throw home.

The pitching change likely will be questioned for years to come should the Rays lose, ending their title hopes. Betts had a .531 OPS against lefties this season, compared with 1.061 versus righthanders.

After Julio Urias — the seventh and final Dodgers pitcher — set down the Rays 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, Betts led off the home half with a blast to left-center at Globe Life Field.

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Snell had dominated the Dodgers through five innings, striking out nine and setting down nine straight batters. The only baserunner he’d allowed came on Chris Taylor’s leadoff single in the third.

Snell joined Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers to pile up nine strikeouts through the first four innings of a World Series game. Koufax did it for the Dodgers in the 1963 opener against the New York Yankees.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles used five pitchers in the same span. After rookie starter Tony Gonsolin was pulled in the second, Dylan Floro, Alex Wood, and Pedro Báez combined for perfect relief until Arozarena singled off Báez with two outs in the fifth, making the rookie slugger 8 for 21 (.381) with three homers in the Series.

Lefthander Víctor González entered and retired Austin Meadows on a grounder with his first pitch.

Rays catcher Mike Zunino struck out against Báez in the fifth and was 0 for 15 in the Series. Zunino singled in the seventh and then was lifted for a pinch runner.

Snell overwhelmed the Dodgers' 2-3-4 hitters in the fourth, striking out Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Max Muncy. The lefthander hadn’t completed five innings since Game 1 of the AL Championship Series.

Snell hadn’t been so reliable in the middle innings. He limited batters to a .140 average the first time through the order in the regular season, but allowed a .307 mark the second time around.

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Snell struck out nine in 4⅔ innings as the Rays won Game 2, when he didn’t allow a hit in that game until the fifth.

Gonsolin was gone early again, the Los Angeles starter was replaced by Floro after walking Choi to put two on with two outs in the second and Tampa Bay leading, 1-0. Manager Dave Roberts made the same move in the Rays' 6-4 victory in Game 2, when Gonsolin and Snell both started.

Floro got an inning-ending strikeout of Arozarena, the rookie who extended his record with his 10th homer of the postseason in the first.

It was Arozarena’s third homer in the World Series, the first time a rookie had hit three in the Series since Charlie Keller did it for the New York Yankees in 1939. Arozarena became the first rookie to drive in a run in four consecutive Series games.

It was also the fifth consecutive game in this World Series when a run was scored in the top of the first inning. That had never happened before.

Arozarena went the opposite way in the top of the first, homering to right with one out. Meadows then hit a hard single and Brandon Lowe, who homered off Gonsolin in Game 2, walked before Manuel Margot had a fly out and Joey Wendle struck out.

The LA-tilted crowd among the pandemic-reduced total of about 11,000 was trying to get its club going with frequent chants of “Let’s go Dodgers” in the neutral-site series, but Snell was tough.

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At the end of the game, Urias was even tougher, throwing 2⅓ innings of perfect ball. He struck out four, getting Willy Adames looking to end it.