And for three innings, he was.
Then, the Detroit Tigers began chipping away. And by the time they were done, they had handed Lewis his first postseason defeat and beaten Texas 5-2 Tuesday night to cut the Rangers' edge to 2-1.
"My job is to give us a chance to win," Lewis said. "I did that until things got away a little in the sixth."
The Tigers took the lead on a pitch manager Ron Washington regrets Lewis throwing in the fifth.
Lewis gave Miguel Cabrera a 91 mph fastball to swing at on an 0-2 count and the AL batting champion pounced on it, hitting a go-ahead double. Cabrera got to hit, rather than pitching around him as planned with the hobbled Victor Martinez on deck.
"The ball was supposed to be out of the zone," Washington said. "He didn't put it there."
Lewis, though, recalled what he was supposed to do differently.
"I thought I could get (Cabrera) out," Lewis said. "I wasn't even thinking about a walk there.
"It was 0-2 and I threw a pitch that I thought was a foot-and-a-half off the plate. Maybe it wasn't, but it certainly wasn't over the plate. He just hit it. He's a great hitter."
Martinez had a strain on the right side of his ribs when he hit a solo homer off Lewis in the fourth. The designated hitter stayed in the game and drew a walk in the fifth.
The Tigers padded their lead and ended Lewis' night in the sixth. Jhonny Peralta homered on Lewis' first pitch of the ninth and No. 9 hitter Andy Dirks chased Lewis with a two-out single.
Koji Uehara replaced Lewis and gave up an RBI single to the previously struggling Austin Jackson, giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead.
Lewis was charged with four runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out six.
"I thought I threw the ball well, but sometimes you just don't get the results you want," he said.
The Texas right-hander hadn't given up more than two runs in any of his previous five postseason starts. He had a chance to join Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax as the only pitcher to allow no more than two runs in his first six postseason starts that lasted at least five innings.
Lewis entered the game 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in the postseason. Josh Beckett, Andy Pettitte and Lewis are the only AL pitchers to win four straight postseason starts since 2000.
Now, the Rangers will have to hope left-hander Matt Harrison helps them stay ahead in the best-of-seven series when he pitches against Detroit's Rick Porcello in Game 4 Wednesday.
"We have nothing to worry about," Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz said. "We knew we were playing a good team, and they beat us. We know how to deal with that. We'll be fine."
Texas hopes third baseman Adrian Beltre will be fine as well.
Beltre fouled a pitch off his left knee in the fourth and X-rays showed it was just a bruise. He fell to the ground immediately but was able to finish his at-bat after being checked on. He ended up grounding out, jogging gingerly to first, but remained in the game.
"My own knee hurt again after that one," teammate Elvis Andrus said. "I know how tough Adrian is, but those are really tough."
Early on, it looked as if Lewis might join elite company in baseball lore and help the Rangers win their sixth straight game this postseason.
He retired the Tigers in order in the first by getting Jackson out on a foul ball and striking out Ramon Santiago and Cabrera.
Lewis escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second by striking out slumping Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn, and allowed one hit the next inning while the Rangers held onto a one-run lead.
After that, the game began to slip away from Lewis and the Rangers. Cabrera added a towering home run in the seventh.
Detroit dropped the first two games in Texas before turning to Doug Fister, who won the decisive fifth game of the division series at Yankee Stadium last week. He was sharp again, allowing two runs and seven hits with no walks in 7 1-3 innings.
Jose Valverde, after pitching a season-high two innings the day before, worked around a leadoff double in the ninth for his third playoff save. He got some help from Cabrera, who made a diving play at first base.
Detroit played without injured outfielders Delmon Young, Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch.
Fister's first nine pitches were strikes, but the Rangers poked three of them into the outfield for singles and took a 1-0 lead. Ian Kinsler led off with a single to left, then Andrus chopped an 0-2 pitch into right for a base hit.
Josh Hamilton fell behind 0-2 as well before hitting a soft line drive just past the outstretched arm of Peralta, the shortstop, for an RBI single.
Fister escaped without further damage thanks to a double-play grounder by Michael Young and a strikeout by Adrian Beltre.
"I think we've got great momentum, now this is our time," Detroit reliever Joaquin Benoit said.
NOTES: Valverde has converted all 52 of his save chances this year, including three in the postseason. ... Fister was nearly hit in the fourth when a piece of Mike Napoli's broken bat sailed toward the mound. Fister instinctively stuck out his glove, but the bat missed him. ... Hamilton lost control of his bat during a sixth-inning swing, and it sailed into the front row behind the Texas dugout. A male fan was shaken up after getting hit by the bat but appeared to be OK. ... Yorvit Torrealba started at catcher for Texas so Napoli could have a bit of a breather as the DH. Torrealba had three hits.