ARLINGTON -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler laughed in the clubhouse when he was asked if this was the real Rangers that showed up at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night.
"When we win, it's the real Rangers," Kinsler said. "When we lose, it's the fake version."
If so, the real version has finally arrived, just when the Rangers desperately needed a win to get themselves back into the 106th World Series.
Starter Colby Lewis was definitely real, holding the Giants to two runs in 7 2/3 innings while pitching the Rangers to a badly needed 4-2 victory in Game 3 of the Series.
Lewis earned the victory and Neftali Feliz brought the night to a triumphant finish with his first postseason save, striking out two of the last three hitters, delighting the 52,419 fans -- the largest crowd to see a baseball game in Arlington.
"That was fun," third baseman Michael Young said. "That was great. That was the atmosphere we envisioned for the World Sries."
The Rangers are still down 2-1, but Lewis' terrific performance kept them from being placed in a far more untenable position of being down 3-0 to the National League champions.
"We're right where we want to be," outfielder Josh Hamilton said.
"This means a lot," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We knew this game was really important in getting us back into the World Series. Tonight was great, a first step toward winning the World Series."
The Rangers are 8-0 in this year's playoffs when they allow three or fewer runs. They're 0-6 when they allow more than three.
"This is a great win for us," outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "This is how we've been winning in the postseason -- get the big hit early, get our crowd into it and have pitching do the rest. We knew we had to have it, but we were relaxed and had a well-played game."
Mitch Moreland delivered the biggest hit of the night, belting a three-run home run off of Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez in the second inning. It was Moreland's first home run of the postseason and his first home run at the Major League level off a left-handed pitcher.
Hamilton added his first home run of the World Series in the fifth inning off Sanchez, who had held left-handed hitters to a .181 average and five home runs in 138 at-bats during the regular season.
The Rangers had hit a home run in 11 straight playoff games over the first two rounds before failing to go deep in the first two games of this series in San Francisco.
Tommy Hunter will try to keep momentum in the Rangers' favor when he makes a Halloween start in Game 4 at 7 p.m. CT on Sunday, with rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner opposing him for the Giants. Texas, the 52nd team to lose the first two games of the World Series, is still trying to become the 12th such team to come back and win it all.
Colby Lewis' game-by-game playoff stats
But the next two are in Arlington, and if the Rangers can win Game 4, they will have Cliff Lee back on the mound on Monday in Game 5.
"Obviously, we needed to come out and win heading into Game 4," Young said. "But I really never bought into that must-win stuff. Every game is big. The only time it's must-win is when the other team has three wins. We just wanted to play our brand of baseball, and this is a good start. But we know we can do even more."
The Giants are well aware that this series is only heating up.
"It's always a dogfight," outfielder Cody Ross said. "It was a dogfight before the beginning of this game. We just have to keep grinding. It takes some wind out of your sails. But we have to keep fighting, doing what we did the first couple of games. Tonight, they put the pressure on us and we couldn't answer."
History shows Game 4 to be crucial. There have been 41 teams that have won Game 4 of the World Series to take a 3-1 lead. Of those 41, 35 have gone on to win it all.
There have been 40 teams with a 2-1 lead that lost Game 4. Of those 40, only 18 have come back to win the World Series. There are multiple ways this thing could play out over the next week, but the Rangers did make it a true World Series rather than a one-sided rout by winning Game 3.
"It's huge," outfielder David Murphy said. "We came into today knowing that if we won, we could put ourselves in a great situation and shift the momentum a little bit being on our home field for the next two games. Being down 2-1 is still not where we want to be, but we're still in a good spot."
They are because of Lewis, who won his third straight postseason start and is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts in the playoffs. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all four starts.
"Tonight was the Colby Lewis show," Young said.
Lewis, holding a 4-0 lead, took a shutout into the seventh before Ross hit a home run. Andres Torres also hit a home run off him in the eighth, and then Lewis, with two outs, hit Aubrey Huff with a pitch.
That brought the tying run to the plate in Buster Posey, the Giants' cleanup hitter. But Darren O'Day came in from the bullpen and, in the most tense moment of the game, got the young catcher to hit a weak ground ball to Andrus to end the inning.
That left the ninth inning for Feliz, and he set down the side in order to preserve a big victory and restore the luster of a bullpen that got knocked around in San Francisco.
"I wasn't worried at all," Lewis said. "Those guys have been doing it all year. Nefti came in throwing 100 [mph] like he usually does, pounding the strike zone early and putting guys away with the big fastball."
It's all a part of the real Rangers showing up, at least when they win. And they really needed this win.