St. Petersburg, Fla. Once again, the Texas Rangers look perfectly comfortable under the roof at Tropicana Field.
Colby Lewis outpitched All-Star David Price, Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead homer and the defending AL champions survived a shaky effort from the bullpen to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, Monday in Game 3 of their best-of-five playoff.
The Rangers’ fourth straight division series road win matched the third-longest streak in major league history and gave them a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4. Texas won three ALDS games at Tampa Bay a year ago, when it eliminated the Rays in five games.
The Rangers will send left-hander Matt Harrison to the mound today against rookie Jeremy Hellickson.
“We don’t take these guys lightly because they’ve got momentum, they’ve got a lot of heart,” Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan said. “That concerns you a lot, and so we know we’ve got our hands full with them.”
Playing in front of the first sellout at home since opening day and hoping to recapture the magic of clinching the AL wild card in the regular-season fianle, Tampa Bay got a pair of solo home runs from rookie Desmond Jennings.
The Rays kept it interesting by scoring twice off Rangers relievers before Neftali Feliz got four outs for his second save of the series.
Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre, playing deep and guarding the line to prevent a double in the ninth, started an around-the-horn double play on Kelly Shoppach’s grounder to end it.
“It was three of the toughest innings that we experienced all year. ... I am just so happy we were able to get the 27th out,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Lately, opponents have found that difficult to do against Tampa Bay.
“Believe me, this thing is not over,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “You have seen what we have done over the past month.”
The Rays made up a nine-game deficit on Boston in the wild-card standings after Sept. 3 and claimed their third postseason berth in four years.
Maddon expects his team to bounce back again.
“We’ll get back out there ... win that game, take it back to Texas,” Maddon said.