Colby Lewis outpitched All-Star David Price and Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead two-run homer as the defending AL champions survived a shaky night from the bullpen to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Monday night in Game 3 of their postseason series.
The Rangers’ fourth straight division series road win matches the third-longest streak in major league history and gives Texas a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4 tonight at Tropicana Field.
Texas won three ALDS games here a year ago, when it eliminated Tampa Bay in five games.
Rookie Desmond Jennings hit a pair of solo homers for the Rays, who 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.
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’s yet to beat in his career.
The left-hander shrugged off a poor outing in his last regular season start to take a 1-0 lead into the seventh, thanks to Desmond Jennings’ fourth-inning homer off Lewis.
Beltre singled leading off the seventh against Price and took second a wild pitch. A crowd of 32,828 — the first sellout at Tropicana Field since opening day — fell silent when Napoli lifted a 2-2 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.
As good as Price was early, Lewis was even better, limiting the Rays to one hit over six innings.
Jennings’ first homer was the only hit off the right-hander, who had worked 16 consecutive scoreless innings against the Rays up to that point.
The scoreless stretch began with a five-inning stint in last year’s ALDS and continued with an eight-inning performance to beat Price and the Rays on June 1.
But the Rangers bullpen nearly let a three-run lead slip away.
Johnny Damon, Ben Zobrist and Casey Kotchman singled to load the bases against reliever Darren Oliver in the seventh.
Damon scored when pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez grounded out, and the Rangers escaped further damage when the second pitcher of the inning, Alexi Ogando, induced pinch-hitter Sam Fuld to hit a roller to second base.
The Rays weren’t finished. Jennings led off eighth with his second homer, trimming Texas’ lead to 4-3.
Mike Adams walked B.J. Upton, who was caught stealing, and then walked Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce to get himself into trouble again.
The Rangers wiggled off the hook when Michael Gonzales struck out Damon. Feliz came on to fan Zobrist with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
Price lost at home to Cliff Lee and the Rangers twice in last year’s ALDS.
TIGERS 5, YANKEES 4
DETROIT — Justin Verlander struck out 11 in eight gritty innings and Jose Valverde stopped a New York Yankees rally for the second straight night, whiffing Derek Jeter with two on to close out the Detroit Tigers’ 5-4 victory Monday.
Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking homer in seventh off Rafael Soriano and the Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American League playoff, pushing the Yankees to the brink of elimination.
Their hopes ride tonight on A.J. Burnett, the $82.5 million pitcher who was so unreliable this season that he wasn’t supposed to get a start in this series.
A rainstorm changed all that when Game 1 was suspended Friday night, forcing both teams to alter their pitching plans.
Verlander and New York ace CC Sabathia were back on the mound after their series-opening matchup at Yankee Stadium was halted after only 1½ innings.
While Sabathia didn’t make it through the sixth Monday, Verlander was still hitting 100 mph on the stadium radar gun in the eighth.
Valverde took over in the ninth — and another dramatic ending followed.
The All-Star closer, who was perfect in 49 save chances this season, walked two and got a warning-track flyout before striking out Jeter to end it.
Trailing by four in the ninth on Sunday, the Yankees scored twice against Valverde before he got Robinson Cano to ground out with two on to close out a 5-3 victory in Game 2.
After two games in New York that took three rainy days to finish, Comerica Park was dry on Monday, with the exception of the fountains beyond center field.
The Yankees managed two quick runs off Verlander in the first, but the 24-game winner settled down, allowing four runs, six hits and three walks.