Rangers continue success on the road
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Back on the road in the playoffs, the Rangers won again.
Colby Lewis outpitched All-Star David Price, Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead two-run homer, and the defending AL champions survived a shaky night from the bullpen to hold off the Rays yesterday, 4-3, in Game 3 of their postseason series.
The Rangers’ fourth straight Division Series road win matches the third-longest streak in history and gives Texas a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4 today. Texas won three ALDS games here a year ago, when it eliminated Tampa Bay in five games.
Playing in front of the first sellout at Tropicana Field since Opening Day, Desmond Jennings hit a pair of solo homers for the Rays. Tampa Bay kept it interesting by scoring twice off Rangers relievers before Neftali Feliz got four outs for his second save of the series.
“It was three of the toughest innings that we experienced all year,’’ Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the late-game drama.
Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre, playing deep and guarding the line to prevent a double in the ninth, started a double play on Kelly Shoppach’s grounder to end it.
Price was the losing pitcher in two of Tampa Bay’s playoff losses in 2010 and welcomed the opportunity to try to redeem himself against the only AL opponent he has yet to beat in his career.
The lefthander shrugged off a poor outing in his last regular-season start to take a 1-0 lead into the seventh, thanks to Jennings’s fourth-inning homer off Lewis.
Beltre singled leading off the seventh against Price and took second on a wild pitch. A crowd of 32,828 fell silent when Napoli lifted a 2-and-2 pitch into the seats in left-center for a 2-1 advantage.
Josh Hamilton extended the lead with a two-run single off reliever J.P. Howell.
“Napoli has just been - this is the year of the Napoli, man,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
As good as Price was early, Lewis was better in limiting the Rays to one hit over six innings. Jennings’s first homer was the only hit off the righthander, who had worked 16 consecutive scoreless innings against the Rays up to that point - a stretch that began with a five-inning stint in last year’s Division Series and continued with an eight-inning performance to beat Price and the Rays June 1.
Price lost at home to Cliff Lee and the Rangers twice in last year’s ALDS and was coming off a disappointing outing against the Yankees in which he surrendered six runs in four innings of a game that the Rays needed to win to ensure they stayed alive for the wild-card berth on the final night.
The 26-year-old lefty was 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA in eight career starts against Texas before yesterday.