Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer off Jonathan Sanchez, Josh Hamilton added a solo shot and the Texas Rangers took a 4-0 lead over the San Francisco Giants after six innings Saturday night as they tried to claw back from a 2-0 World Series deficit. Nelson Cruz doubled off the center-field wall leading off the second and, two outs later, Bengie Molina drew a walk from Sanchez, the major league walks leader.
Moreland, the No. 9 hitter, fouled off four straight 2-2 pitches before lining the ninth pitch of his at-bat into the right-field seats. It was the rookie's first home run against a left-hander, and it sent Rangers president Nolan Ryan jumping out of his first-row seat, arm raised. Hamilton pounced on a hanging curve with two outs in the fifth, sending it 426 feet deep into the right-field stands. It was his fifth home run of the postseason and first of the World Series.
Rangers starter Colby Lewis allowed three hits in the first six innings, struck out five and walked two. The Giants didn't advance a runner past second. Sanchez, who got just six outs against Philadelphia in his previous start, gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings, raising his ERA to 4.05 in four postseason starts.
After Hamilton's homer, he walked Vladimir Guerrero and was replaced by Guillermo Mota, who had started warming up in the third. Forty of the previous 51 teams to take a 2-0 Series lead went on to win the title, including 13 of the last 14. The lone exception was the 1996 Atlanta Braves, who lost to the New York Yankees in six games. Every team to go up 3-0 has won the championship.
The Giants responded in the top of the seventh with a single run homerun by Cody Ross. And again in the eighth, Andres Torres fly ball to right field allowed the Giants to score a second run.
In Game 4 on Sunday night -- only the third Halloween game in Series history -- Madison Bumgarner starts for the Giants against Tommy Hunter. The first World Series game in Arlington began at 6 p.m. CDT, the earliest start time in the World Series since Game 2 in 1987. With the sun still shining on the upper deck in left, the ballpark had more the look of a midsummer All-Star game than of an autumn World Series.
Ryan threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former Rangers All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez, a 68 mph toss from the top of the mound. Ryan then took a seat near the Rangers dugout, where former First Lady Laura Bush sat between the Hall of Famer and former President George W. Bush, who wore a blue Rangers jacket. Bush's group owned the Rangers from 1989-98.
Tom Hicks, who owned the team from 1998 until selling it in August to the group headed by Ryan and Chuck Greenberg, watched from a suite between third base and the mound. With the shift to the AL ballpark, Guerrero was in his usual designated hitter spot for the Rangers and Pablo Sandoval got his first Series start as the Giants' DH. Guerrero was benched for Game 2, a day after making two errors in right field in the opener. Cruz moved to left in place of David Murphy, and Jeff Francoeur got his first Series start in right.Sandoval entered just 3 for 14 (.214) in the postseason.
San Francisco threatened in the first on Freddy Sanchez's one-out single and Buster Posey's two-out walk, but Pat Burrell struck out. Michael Young singled with one out in the bottom half on a pop to short left that Burrell got a slow start on, and the ball popped out of his glove as he tried for a diving catch. Josh Hamilton popped out to third baseman Juan Uribe in short left, and Guerrero hit a fly to deep left that appeared to get knocked down by the wind. Cody Ross walked leading off the second, but Uribe fouled out and Sandoval grounded into a double play.