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Kelly baffles rivals, Diamondbacks Strike

LOS ANGELES — Arizona pitcher Merrill Kelly struck out nine and scattered three hits over seven innings to spark the Diamondbacks over Texas 9-1 on Saturday and level the World Series.

Gabriel Moreno smashed a solo home run and Ketel Marte drove in two runs with a record-setting single as Arizona equalized Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final at 1-1 with Game 3 in Phoenix on Monday.

Kelly, a 35-year-old right-hander, spent four seasons in the South Korean league, dreaming of such a dominating effort, before joining Arizona in 2019.

“I dreamed of it but at that point all it was was a dream,” Kelly said. “It took a lot of hard work, a lot of being in the right place. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Arizona organization for giving me a chance.

“I’m just glad we got it done.”

Kelly surrendered a solo homer to Mitch Garver in the fifth inning but otherwise baffled Texas batters while Diamondbacks hitters struck.

“If I execute, I’ve got a pretty good chance,” Kelly said.

The Rangers, in their first World Series since 2011, seek the club’s first MLB crown since it began play in 1961 while the Diamondbacks won their only title in 2001 in their only prior World Series appearance.

Marte broke the MLB all-time playoff hit streak record by stretching his run to 18 games with a two-run single in the eighth inning.

The 30-year-old Dominican second baseman, whose post-season streak dates to 2017, had shared the old mark of 17 with Derek Jeter, Hank Bauer and Manny Ramirez.

Moreno crushed his fourth homer of the playoffs, a solo blast over the centerfield wall, to open the scoring in the fourth inning.

With two outs, Tommy Pham doubled down the right-field line and scored on a single by Lourdes Gurriel to give the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead.