Equal parts revenge and redemption helped the Tampa Bay Rays even the World Series on Wednesday as left-hander Blake Snell took charge from the mound and Brandon Lowe experienced a revival.
Snell kept baseball's best offense off balance and Lowe hit two home runs to distance himself from recent struggles as the Rays earned a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 at Arlington, Texas.
Snell did not give up a hit until the fifth when the Dodgers' Chris Taylor hit a home run.
Despite a rapidly rising pitch count, the left-hander, in his first career World Series start, befuddled a Los Angeles offense that scored eight runs in a Game 1 victory Tuesday and hit a major-league-leading 118 home runs during the regular season. Snell allowed two runs on two hits over 4 2/3 innings with four walks and nine strikeouts while throwing 88 pitches.
"In the bullpen (warming up), I felt terrible, honestly," Snell said on MLB Network. "I go out there and I was like, 'OK, we'll see what I got.' But once I got to the mound, everything just kind of locked in."
Lowe got the Rays' offense started with a solo home run in the first inning off rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin, then hit a two-run shot in the fifth inning off another Dodgers rookie, right-hander Dustin May.
Gonsolin was used at the outset but it was essentially a bullpen game because the team did not have a fully rested starter. Los Angeles used three starters Sunday in its Game 7 victory in the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Gonsolin (0-1) gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings, becoming the first starting pitcher to record four or fewer outs in a World Series start since the San Francisco Giants' Jake Peavy in Game 6 of the 2014 Series.
The Dodgers used seven pitchers in the defeat.
After an off day, Game 3 of the best-of-seven series will be played Friday.
"They're the best team in the American League and they pitch well and they defend well," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said of the Rays. "They give you tough at-bats, and for us to beat them, we have to play tough baseball. Right now, we're tied in the series and ready to go for Game 3."
The Rays never trailed while earning just their second World Series win in franchise history. The other came in Game 2 in 2008 against the Philadelphia Phillies, who captured the series in five games.
Tampa Bay increased the lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning when Joey Wendle hit a two-run double off May.
Lowe's two-run shot in the fifth off May pushed the gap to 5-0. Lowe, who led the Rays in the regular season with 14 home runs, had a hit in each of Tampa Bay's first two games of the postseason but was batting .083 (4-for-48) with one home run in 13 games since.
"Oh man, I hit the first (home run) and it was like a weight came off my shoulders," Lowe said on MLB Network. "I was happy to finally start contributing to a team that's carried me through so much struggles so far."
Taylor's two-run home run with two outs in the fifth, his first in 12 games for the Dodgers this postseason, cut the Rays' lead to 5-2. Mookie Betts followed with a walk before Corey Seager singled. Snell was then replaced by right-hander Nick Anderson (1-0). Justin Turner struck out to end the threat while representing the tying run.
Tampa Bay increased the lead to 6-2 in the sixth inning on a Wendle sacrifice fly, giving him three RBIs.
The Dodgers got the run back in the bottom of the sixth on a home run from Will Smith off Anderson, and Seager homered in the eighth against Pete Fairbanks to cut the deficit to 6-4.
Seager collected his seventh home run of the playoffs, a Dodgers record for a single postseason and a major league record for a shortstop in a single postseason.
Los Angeles again had the tying run at the plate in the eighth with nobody out but Max Muncy flied out and Smith lined out against Fairbanks before Cody Bellinger struck out against left-hander Aaron Loup.
Diego Castillo recorded the final out of the game, striking out Taylor, to earn his third save of the postseason.
"I thought they got out to that early lead and we weren't able to overcome it, but overall I thought we did a good job of fighting to the end," Taylor said. "We just weren't able to come up with that big hit that we needed."
The Rays had 10 hits, the first time they reached double digits since Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees. The single-digit-hit skid lasted 10 games.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said, "We have a complete offense, and I know they have been quiet, but we have a lot of confidence in this group that we can be really balanced and have good at-bats and put pressure on pitchers and opposing defenses."
--Field Level Media