Kershaw, much maligned for his previous World Series failures, 1-2 with a 5.40 earned run average in five previous starts, was on his best behavior.
He pitched six innings and gave up one run, a home run to Kevin Kermaier, but only two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. He threw only 78 pitches, but with an 8-1 lead, LA manager Dave Roberts decided to save Kershaw’s bullets and gave him the rest of the night off.
Tampa Bay’s True Outcome style produced one home run, one walk and 10 strikeouts from a team that led the majors in strikeouts this season.
The Dodgers had one hit and Rays starter Tyler Glasnow had struck out five when he walked Max Muncy to open the fourth. After Will Smith grounded out, Cody Bellinger hit one toward downtown Dallas, a two-run home run for a 2-0 lead.
The Rays had one hit and Kershaw had struck seven with two outs in the fifth. And Kershaw had retired 13 straight when Kermaier connected for a two-out solo home run, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Glasnow walked both Mookie Betts and Corey Seager to start the fifth and it cost the Rays as the Dodgers ran rampant on the basepaths.
Betts stole second. After Seager walked, he and Betts pulled off a double steal. It was the first time in 108 years that a team stole three bases in one inning of a World Series. The New York Giants did it against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of the 1912 World Series.
That enabled Betts to score from third on Max Muncy’s grounder on which first baseman Yandy Diaz threw late to the plate.
When Will Smith singled on a full count, scoring Seager, it was 4-1 and Glasnow’s night was finished.
With two outs, relief pitcher Ryan Yarbrough gave up a two-out run-scoring single to Chris Taylor and a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Kike Hernandez to push the advantage to 6-1.
Josh Fleming took the mound for the sixth and his first pitch was driven out of the park by Betts. Then came back-to-back doubles by Justin Turner and Muncy for another run and an 8-1 lead.
Roberts removed Kershaw after six innings with an 8-1 lead. It didn’t work out to his satisfaction.
Former Tampa Bay and Cincinnti pitcher Dylan Floro replaced Kershaw and struck out the first hitter, then gave up a single and a double to put runners on third and second with one out.
Victor Gonzalez gave up back-to-back run-producing singles to pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau and Kiemaier. Suddenly it was 8-3 with one out and two on.
Mike Zunino scorched a line drive. . .right at pitcher Gonzalez. He snagged it and whirled to throw a dart to second for an inning-concluding double play.
That was the last noise out of the Rays. The last six went down in order in the eighth and ninth.