ARLINGTON, Texas — The theme late Saturday night and early Sunday afternoon — in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching, stomach-churning loss — was universal among the members of the Los Angeles Dodgers: They had to forget. They had to wipe away the memory of an improbable ninth-inning breakdown, bounce right back and win a crucial, World Series-shifting Game 5.
“We’re still pretty confident we’re the best team in baseball,” Dodgers catcher Will Smith said, “and we’re gonna win this thing.”
Thanks to more early runs, a gutsy start from Clayton Kershaw and a major recovery from the bullpen, the Dodgers moved a step closer with their 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, taking a 3-2 Series lead and moving one victory away from their first championship since 1988.
The Dodgers picked up a couple of first-inning runs off Tyler Glasnow, then got solo homers from Joc Pederson and Max Muncy. But the game shifted in the bottom of the fourth when, with nobody out, two Rays batters on base and the Dodgers leading by only a run, Kershaw induced a shallow popup, recorded a strikeout, then retired Manuel Margot as he attempted to steal home.
Kershaw went on to retire the next five batters and, just as important, Dustin May retired the four who followed to protect the lead. The Dodgers pen protected that lead when Victor Gonzalez finished up the eighth and Blake Treinen nailed down the ninth to preserve the lead.