Cliff Lee continued his postseason dominance as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 to open Major League Baseball’s divisional playoffs.
Lee, who went 4-0 during last year’s postseason while with the Philadelphia Phillies, struck out 10 batters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, to help give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Rangers struck first, scoring two second-inning runs off Tampa starter David Price on a run-scoring double by Jeff Francoeur and Bengie Molina’s looping single to right.
Nelson Cruz hit a home run to center field in the third inning, Molina added another run batted in with a fourth-inning solo home run to left and Vladimir Guerrero added a run-scoring double in the fifth inning for Texas.
Lee gave up three hits and also had three strikeouts in the first inning. He allowed a double to Ben Zobrist to open the second inning before retiring the next 12 batters.
Zobrist’s seventh-inning homer was the only run Lee surrendered. He threw 104 pitches over seven innings, allowing five hits without a walk.
Price lasted 6 2/3 innings, giving up four earned runs on nine hits while striking out eight.
The Rangers’ Neftali Feliz walked his first two batters in the ninth inning before retiring the next three to close out the game.
The Phillies host the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees play at the Minnesota Twins in other series openers today, and the host San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves begin their matchup tomorrow.