ARLINGTON, Texas — Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn't asking for much. After losing the first two games of the World Series to the Giants and looking bad in doing so, he wanted his players to execute, to just do their part, to play a solid game.
Oh yeah, and acknowledging how the first home Series game in franchise history just "means everything to everyone in Texas," to win.
And the Rangers went out and did just that Saturday, 4-2.
"We knew we could finally put a good game together, and we did," Washington said afterward. "It took the whole team to get it done, and they certainly did. And it feels great."
Better even how they did it, with two of the biggest contributors being two of their least-heralded players.
Colby Lewis, the 31-year-old right-hander who returned after two seasons in Japan a different pitcher than the guy who had 12 big-league wins in four seasons, did what Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson could not, shutting down the Giants in a strong 72/3-inning outing.
And first baseman Mitch Moreland, the No. 9 hitter who didn't even get to the majors until late July, delivered the biggest hit, a three-run homer in the second, the first he had hit off a lefty all season.
Add in a fifth-inning homer by former Rays prospect Josh Hamilton, four outs from relievers Darren O'Day and Neftali Feliz and an assist to a stadium-record crowd of 52,419, and the Rangers felt pretty good about their accomplishment.
"That was a huge win for us, a must win," rightfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "You tell anybody in a World Series you're going down 3-0, you don't really like your odds. You go down 2-1 with Cliff (Lee) throwing Monday night, we feel like if we can come back and get (tonight's game), we feel like the Series goes back in our favor."
The Giants, meanwhile, weren't feeling too good. They got a second straight poor start from Jonathan Sanchez, who failed to get through the fifth, and at the plate looked nothing like the team that rolled up 20 runs in the first two games, managing just five hits and scoring on two home runs.
"The big picture, we're up 2-1, and before this thing started if you asked everybody if that would be okay, I think everybody would agree," said outfielder Pat Burrell, the former Ray who was a big part of the problem with four strikeouts. "But we knew this wasn't going to be easy. … It's going to be tough for us."
Lewis was a big reason for their woes, adding to his captivating comeback story with a masterful performance to improve to 3-0, 1.71 in four postseason starts as the fans chanted "Colby, Colby" during his final inning.
"It feels amazing for sure," Lewis said. "You know, I feel very fortunate to be on this stage really, like everybody says. I was in a Japan for the last two years not thinking I would have this opportunity."
Lewis won 10 games as a rookie for the Rangers in 2003, but shoulder surgery cost him much of 2004 and all of 2005, and he bounced around after that before heading to Japan. He went 26-17 in two seasons with Hiroshima, and he made an impressive return going 12-13, 3.72.
Said Francoeur: "I think everybody knows who Colby Lewis is now."
Moreland's name recognition is growing, too. One of six first basemen the Rangers tried this season, the 25-year-old got an opportunity in late July and made the most of it, taking over as the primary first baseman.
His contribution Saturday was clutch, with two on and two out, working a nine-pitch at-bat off Sanchez, fouling off four off-speed pitches then turning on a fastball to give the Rangers, and their fans, a welcome 3-0 lead.
Pretty good for a guy the Rangers sent to the instructional league two years ago to try pitching. "He won't be pitching again anytime soon," Francoeur said. "I think Mitch will be all right."
And maybe the Rangers, too.