ARLINGTON, Texas—Mitch Moreland is the kid who might not even be in the majors had the Texas Rangers not traded for Cliff Lee.
Now the rookie first baseman is one of the big bats in a Texas lineup that finally showed some life in the World Series.
Josh Hamilton added a solo shot and the Rangers won their first World Series home game, beating San Francisco 4-2 on Saturday night to cut their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Returning home to Rangers Ballpark cured the ailing Texas bats after two miserable games by the bay at AT&T park, where the Rangers still have never won a game. They need to change that if they're going to win this World Series.
The AL champion Rangers showed their resiliency once again. If they hadn't, the first World Series in the franchise's 50 seasons would be nearly done.
Hamilton, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz had gone a combined 3 for 25 over two nights in San Francisco, where the Rangers hit .227 and were outscored 20-9.
Cruz had a leadoff double in the second inning and was at third before Bengie Molina drew a two-out walk. Moreland then fouled off four consecutive 2-2 pitches against left-hander Jonathan Sanchez before the No. 9 hitter in the lineup knocked a ball into the right-field seats.
Hamilton, like Young 1 for 8 with no RBIs in the first two games, homered in the fifth to make it 4-0, sending the already-excited Rangers Ballpark record crowd of 52,419 into an absolute frenzy.
Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player in his 10th season and the team's career hits leader, got back on track with two singles.
By winning Game 3, the Rangers don't even have to consider pitching Lee on three days' rest because Sunday won't be a potential elimination game.
Tommy Hunter starts Game 4. Lee, who took his first postseason loss with his shortest outing (4 2-3 innings) in Game 1, gets the ball for Game 5 on Monday night.
The Rangers acquired Lee on July 9 from Seattle after it appeared the ace left-hander was headed to the defending World Series champion New York Yankees. One of the reasons Texas was able to make the deal was the willingness to trade rookie first baseman Justin Smoak, a top prospect already playing in the majors.
Moreland became the Rangers' fifth starting first baseman when he made his major league debut July 27. Chris Davis, Ryan Garko and Joaquin Arias had also started there for Texas.
Two days later, veteran Jorge Cantu was acquired from Florida in a trade. The plan was to let the right-handed hitting Cantu play mostly against left-handed pitchers, and the left-handed hitting Moreland would get the other games.
Texas manager Ron Washington went into the playoffs expecting to stick with that plan even though Cantu hit only .235 with one home run and two RBIs in 30 regular-season games for Texas.
Cantu started Game 1 of the division series against Tampa Bay left-hander David Price and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. Cantu also started the opener of the AL championship series against Yankees lefty CC Sabathia and went 0 for 3. Cantu has gotten only one other at-bat this postseason.
Moreland has hit in 11 of his last 12 playoff games. His biggest hit came in Game 3 off a left-hander when he did what Lee hasn't been able to do yet: help the Rangers win a World Series game.
Because of Moreland and the rest of the bats, Lee will definitely get another chance.