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10/12/11 1:15 AM ET

Facing Tigers sluggers, best stuff eludes Lewis

Cabrera, Martinez chip away in Game 3 with extra-base hits

DETROIT -- For Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, the nexus of Tuesday night's 5-2 loss to the Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series was the two-strike pitch to first baseman Miguel Cabrera in the fifth inning that got away.

Cabrera doubled to drive in the Tigers' second run, sending Detroit to victory at Comerica Park. That cut the Rangers' lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1 with Game 4 slated for Wednesday afternoon at 3:19 CT. Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The Rangers staked Lewis to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but that wouldn't nearly be enough.

"My job is to go out there and compete and keep us in the ballgame," Lewis said afterward. "I felt like I did that. It kind of got away there, and that was the ballgame."

Victor Martinez had tied the score at 1 in the fourth inning with a long home run to right. But it was all downhill for Lewis and the Rangers after Cabrera's big hit -- a liner just fair into the right-field corner that scored Austin Jackson to give the Tigers a lead they never relinquished.

"[Lewis] throws strikes, and every now and then, he's going to give up some long balls," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I thought it was a pretty good ballgame -- 1-0, then 1-1. Then Cabrera caught an up-and-away fastball that was supposed to have been out of the zone -- just didn't get it there. And from that point on, they just whittled [Lewis] down."

There was some conjecture, though, about the location of the key pitch, which came with runners on first and third, two outs and a seemingly injured Martinez in the on-deck circle. Martinez strained the intercostal muscle in his right side an inning earlier on his home run swing.

Washington reiterated that the pitch to Cabrera was not thrown in the right spot.

"The ball was supposed to be out of the zone," Washington said. "He didn't put it there. That was what was supposed to happen."

Lewis disagreed.

"The ball was probably a foot and half off the plate," Lewis said. "I don't know. I thought it was. I haven't gone back and looked at it. [Cabrera] did a good job keeping it fair by inches. Hats off to him."

Pitching coach Mike Maddux also didn't agree.

"The fastball was obviously not where he wanted it," Maddux said. "But the guy went outside the zone and kept [the line drive] inside the chalk. That's a great hitter."

The irony of it all is that Lewis hadn't had any problems with Detroit's hitters until Martinez led off the fourth with the homer. And even then, Lewis retired the next three batters in order. As matters unraveled after the Cabrera pitch, Jhonny Peralta led off the sixth with another homer. Two outs later, Andy Dirks singled and Washington finally went to the bullpen.

Jackson singled home Dirks off reliever Koji Uehara, and the damage against Lewis was complete.

"Colby was good -- he was on it," said Yorvit Torreabla, who made a rare start behind the plate as Mike Napoli replaced Michael Young as the designated hitter. "Obviously, he made a couple of mistakes, and they don't miss those mistakes. That's a veteran ballclub. They've been around. They're just looking for mistakes. They make you pay, and that's what happened."

In all, Lewis allowed four runs on eight hits -- including the two homers -- striking out six and walking two. When Washington finally yanked him, he had thrown 111 pitches in 5 2/3 innings -- not an economical use of his ensemble, Maddux said.

"The only thing that got him was the pitch count," Maddux said. "He had a lot of strikeouts. Strikeouts are fun and fine, but they run up the pitch count."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.