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Slumping Rangers Turn To Lee To Extend Series

Cliff Lee #33 and Tommy Hunter #35 of the Texas Rangers line up before taking on the San Francisco Giants in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Cliff Lee #33 and Tommy Hunter #35 of the Texas Rangers line up before taking on the San Francisco Giants in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Rangers are counting on Cliff Lee to keep the San Francisco Giants from celebrating a World Series championship deep in the heart of Texas.

After Giants rookie Madison Bumgarner delivered a Lee-like performance — against a normally potent lineup slumping at the worst possible time — Texas is in a 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.

“I don’t think discouragement is the right word,” Michael Young said after a 4-0 loss Sunday night. “Obviously, we know we’re capable of more.”

To extend their first World Series, the Rangers need ace left-hander Lee to make the most of his second chance in Game 5 on Monday night in a rematch against Tim Lincecum.

It might be the last start in Texas for free agent-to-be, who in the opener of this series absorbed his first loss over two dominating postseasons.

“I certainly hope he’ll do better (Monday). We feel pretty good about him being out there,” manager Ron Washington said. “Once again, we’ve got to put some runs on the board.”

Texas managed only three singles in eight innings off Madison Bumgarner before Giants closer Brian Wilson pitched a perfect ninth in Game 4.

The Rangers, who lost 9-0 in Game 2 at San Francisco, are the first team to be shut out twice in a World Series since the 1966 Dodgers failed to score in the last three games while being swept by Baltimore.

Texas was scoreless at home only once during the regular season.

“There’s really no reason to be deflated,” Ian Kinsler said. “It’s pretty simple. We win, we move on to the next game. Emotions are taken out of it. You play the game the right way and hopefully you end up scoring more runs.”

Lee was 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career postseason starts going into Game 1 of the World Series, but he allowed eight hits and seven runs over 4 2-3 innings in his shortest postseason start. He had never given up more runs or hits.

“I get a chance to redeem myself against the team that actually put it to me pretty good last time,” Lee said before Game 4. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been working hard — it’s basically the last start of the season for me — and I want to do everything I can to help this team win the World Series.”

All the prized midseason acquisition can really do is get the Series back to AT&T Park, where Texas lost the first two games and is 0-11 all-time.

“You like having (Lee) on the mound in any game. But an elimination game is even better,” slugger Josh Hamilton said. “He’s going to go out and pitch his game. Hopefully our bats will show up and give him some support.”

Hamilton hit a solo homer in the 4-2 victory in Game 3. But the majors’ leading hitter during the regular season (.359) is only 2 for 16 in the World Series. He was hitless in four at-bats Sunday night.

He did have a diving catch in center field to end the second when the Giants had runners on first and third. But that was after Hamilton grounded into an double play to end the first and before he was caught stealing to end the fourth when he reached on a fielder’s choice.

Hamilton reached on an error in the seventh, but Vladimir Guerrero struck out for the third time, swinging weakly at strike three for the second at-bat in a row. It was Guerrero’s first three-strikeout performance in 43 postseason games, and his first for Texas this year.

“I’m surprised to be honest with you,” Hamilton said “It looked like he was looking for a different pitch than what he got. He knew it was a strike and he tried to swing at the last minute.”

During a break between innings early in the game, a video montage of Lee highlights was shown to the 1957 song, “Mr. Lee.”

The Rangers acquired Lee from Seattle on July 9 in hopes that he would have a chance to win games like the one Monday night.

He won his first three postseason starts for Texas, winning the opener and then the clinching Game 5 in the first round against Tampa Bay. He struck out 13 and allowed only two hits in eight innings to beat the defending World Series champion New York Yankees in Game 3 of the AL championship series.

Lee was sporting a clean-shaven look heading into Game 5, but insists the grooming has nothing to do with what happened last Wednesday.

“I don’t like shaving, so I usually let it go a little bit before I shave it,” he said. “But that’s really all that is. It’s not a superstition.”

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.