The Texas Rangers used a big 7th inning to sneak by the Tampa Bay Rays last night, extending their playoff series lead to 2-1. Colby Lewis and the Rangers bullpen kept things close, while Mike Napoli and Justin Hamilton delivered the deciding blows.
Entering game three, the Rays seemed to hold the advantage. Not only were they back in Tampa Bay, but they were sending top starter David Price to the hill.
Meanwhile, the Rangers, having already used their top two starting pitchers, countered with Colby Lewis. While Lewis’s 2011 campaign was solid but not spectacular, the right-hander showed up big when it mattered most.
Both pitchers kept the game scoreless through three innings, but the Rays finally broke the tie in the 4th. Leading off the frame, Desmond Jennings took the first pitch he saw from Lewis deep to left, putting the Rays up 1-0.
It would be the only hit Lewis would surrender. Over his six innings of work, Lewis held the Rays to one run on one hit while striking out six.
Still, Price was a tick better, holding the Rangers scoreless over his first six frames.
Things quickly changed in the 7th. Entering the frame, Price had only allowed four hits. Before he could escape the 7th, the Rangers tagged Price for three hits and two runs. Texas would eventually score twice more before the inning ended.
With their newly acquired lead, the Rangers turned things over to their pen, which proceeded to start giving that advantage right back. The Rays scored single runs in the 7th and 8th innings, but Neftali Feliz was able to close the door in the 9th, recording the final four outs for his second save of the playoffs.
With their season hanging in the balance, the Rays are sending Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson to the mound tonight in game four. The Rangers will counter with Matt Harrison as they look to close things out.