He was practically unhittable for seven innings — one run, three hits, no walks seven strikeouts — and the Dbacks offense bashed 16 hit in the devastation of the Rangers.
The victory gained Arizona a split of the first two games in Globe Life Stadium and after a day off the Series switches to Arizona for the next three games, beginning Monday night.
While winning his third post-season game against one defeat, Kelly established control from his first pitch, retiring the first 11 Rangers.
Texas starter Jordan Montgomery kept the Dbacks quiet for three innings before the visitors scored two runs in the fourth, all the runs Kelly needed.
Gabriel Moreno slammed a one-out 413-foot home run into the left-field seats. Tommy Pham doubled and scored on a single by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to make it 2-0.
Gurriel’s run-scoring single came with two outs and before it ended Arizona had scored seven of its nine runs with two outs.
Texas’ Evan Carter broke Kelly’s perfect spell with a two-out single in the fourth, the first Rangers’ base-runner.
Kelly’s shutout vanished in the fifth when Mitch Garver homered leading off, cutting Arizona’s lead to 2-1.
But Arizona piled on seven runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth to tuck this one into the bank.
Evan Longoria followed an Alek Thomas double in the seventh with a run-scoring single. Arizona resorted to its smallball methodology when Geraldo Perdomo bunted Longoria to second and he scored on rookie Corbin Carroll’s two-out single to make it 4-1.
Arizona utilized the sacrifice bunt three times.
Eight Diamondbacks came to bat in the eighth and it produced three runs, all with two outs.
Ketel Marte slapped a two-run single, extending his post-season hitting streak to 18 games and Carroll singled him home for another run and it was 7-1.
Arizona, having fun at Texas’ expense, added two more two-out runs in the ninth.
After the Texas home run by Garvey leading off the fifth, Kelly gave up a harmless two-out single to Josh Jung.
Then he went to work with due diligence.
In the sixth and seventh he retired six straight, four of the six via strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth. Among the whiffs were Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia.
It was Saeger’s two-run game-tying home run in the ninth and Garcia’s walk-off home run in the 11th that gave Texas Game 1, 6-5.
Kelly made certain neither Seager nor Garcia did him any harm. Seager was 0 for 3 and Garcia was 0 for 3, a combined 0 for 6 against Kelly.
Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tommy Pham was 4 for 4 and scored two runs, although he suffered the indignity of getting picked off second base.
Carroll, Gurriel and Thomas each chipped in two of the 16 hits.
Texas starter Montgomery gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings. His fastball velocity was down from his normal speed, and he didn’t strike out anybody while absorbing his first post-season loss this season after three victories.