ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Hey, you Longhorns, Aggies and Horned Frogs.
Colby Lewis and the Texas Rangers threw the biggest tailgate party of them all, beating San Francisco 4-2 on Saturday night and cutting the Giants’ edge in the World Series to 2-1.
Rookie Mitch Moreland hit an early three-run homer, Josh Hamilton later launched a 426-foot shot and the Rangers became the first team from Texas to win a Series game.
Game 3 marked the first time the Series visited the Metroplex. On a college football weekend, the parking lots filled up early with flying pigskins and fine BBQ smoke.
But Lewis and the Rangers showed there was still a place in the Lone Star State for baseball, too. And they certainly brought more joy than the Cowboys, whose gleaming stadium is just a few Hamilton-sized drives.
Big Tex himself, Nolan Ryan, got former President George W. Bush and the rest of the sellout crowd jazzed when he cranked up for the ceremonial first toss. The Rangers’ part-owner brought his heater — at 68 mph, pretty swift for a 63-year-old guy wearing dress pants and a tie.
Then it was time for Lewis to take over. He worked around solo home runs by Cody Ross in the seventh inning and Andres Torres in the eighth. The Giants eventually brought the tying run to the plate, but reliever Darren O’Day retired Buster Posey to end the eighth.
Texas manager Ron Washington finally brought in Neftali Feliz in the ninth, and the rocket-armed closer earned his first save of the postseason. Washington was criticized in the first two games at San Francisco for leaving Feliz in the bullpen while the Giants broke away.
No team in World Series history has overcome a 3-0 deficit and now Texas won’t have to try, either. Rangers starter Tommy Hunter, especially good at home, faces rookie Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 on Sunday night.
Lewis picked up where he left off in the AL championship series, where he finished off the defending champion Yankees in Game 6.
Lewis allowed five hits in 7 2-3 innings and struck out six. He stopped a Giants team that had become the first NL team to score at least nine runs in back-to-back Series game.
The Rangers looked more like themselves with Vladimir Guerrero back in the DH spot.
Moreland, promoted to the majors in late July, won a tough at-bat against Jonathan Sanchez with a three-run homer in the second on the ninth pitch.
Feliz stuck out two in a perfect ninth, setting off a big celebration. Bush leaned over and kissed Ryan’s wife as fireworks exploded overhead.
At a burly 6-foot-4, Lewis is built something like a fullback. He sure scored big for the Lone Star State in this one.
Lewis is a below-.500 pitcher for his career, not including the two seasons he recently spent pitching for Hiroshima in the Japan league. Despite a shaky record, he’s known for this trait: He gets tougher in tight situations.
Lewis escaped a two-on jam in the first by getting Pat Burrell to fish for a breaking ball, and worked around a leadoff walk to Ross in the second.
The next time he got on the mound, he already had a nice cushion.
Nelson Cruz opened the Texas second with a double off the center-field wall and eighth-place hitter Bengie Molina drew a walk. It was trouble time for Sanchez — he owned the best hits-to-innings ratio in the NL this year, yet also led the league in walks and can unravel quickly.
Moreland hung in, fouling off four straight 2-2 pitches and barely getting a piece on a couple of them. He then took a smooth swing sent a liner far into the right-field seats for his first career home run against a left-hander.
It was the big hit the Rangers needed to get back into the Series. The crowd roared and Ryan stood up, thrust his right arm in the air and hollered.
Hamilton gave his boss another thrill in the fifth. A bit jumpy at the plate early in the game, the probable AL MVP patiently waited for his pitch and launched a drive deep into the lower deck in right-center field.
Sanchez, who got just six outs against Philadelphia in his previous start, gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings, raising his ERA to 4.05 in four postseason starts. He was replaced by Guillermo Mota, who had started warming up in the third.