ST. PETERSBURG -- Colby Lewis didn't have the best season among the Rangers' five starters. In fact, he was the only pitcher on the staff with an ERA over 4.00.
But right now Lewis has no equal when it comes to postseason play, and he was at his best again on Monday night. He held the Rays to one run on just one hit over six innings and the Rangers held on for a 4-3 victory in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field.
"You know, for me, I think it's just October, it's either win or go home," Lewis said. "So you kind of go out there with the mentality of just blow your lid, and that's what I tried to tell myself a lot, is it's one batter at a time, and then move on from there."
The only hit off Lewis was a fourth-inning home run by Desmond Jennings that gave the Rays a 1-0 lead. It stayed that way until the seventh, when the Rangers scored four on a two-run home run by Mike Napoli and a two-run single by Josh Hamilton. Lewis, who threw 93 pitches, did not return for the seventh inning. Instead, he had to sit around for almost two hours while five relievers held off the Rays' late-inning rally.
"I really wasn't too worried too much," Lewis said. "Our bullpen has been pretty phenomenal all year long. But the big thing was our offensive production. It's been there all year, and Mike stepped up huge today with the two-run blast. And I think that just got us kicked off."
Lewis is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in five postseason starts dating to last season. He beat the Yankees twice in the playoffs, had the Rangers' only victory over the Giants in the World Series and then came through on Monday night. His work helped give the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the series.
Lewis, going up against Rays left-hander David Price, started out cruising. He retired the first nine batters before giving up a home run to Jennings in the fourth. He then walked B.J. Upton before retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced. He certainly made it look a lot easier than the Rangers' bullpen.
"I thought he was [making it look easy] the way he was throwing the ball," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "And he certainly did for the time that he kept the ball.
"You know, you have to give Jennings credit. He threw a pitch down and in and he got it out of there. And from that point on, it was just about matching zeros with Price because he was throwing well also."
Lewis is 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA in three career starts at Tropicana Field, including allowing just nine hits in 19 innings. He is the first starter in an ALDS game to pitch at least six innings and hold the opposition to just one hit.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.