ARLINGTON -- James Shields flat dominated the Texas Rangers during two regular-season starts, allowing one run in 17 innings against the team that finished with baseball's best batting average.
He was at it again Saturday night, using a wide arsenal of pitches but especially one of the top changeups in the game to keep the Rangers quiet for three innings.
But something changed in the fourth, when an offense that had been blanked for 12 consecutive innings to start the American League Division Series found its footing as Tampa Bay's best pitcher fell apart.
The Rangers scored five times in the fourth, two on Mike Napoli's single, and three relievers locked up the Rays late as the Rangers took an 8-6 victory to even the best-of-five series.
Ian Kinsler had a two-run single in the sixth, and Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer in the eighth as the Rangers won the first ALDS home game in franchise history after dropping their first seven.
The series pauses today for travel ahead of Game 3 at 4:07 p.m. Monday at Tropicana Field. The Rangers made their lives much easier by avoiding a Rays sweep at Rangers Ballpark.
"Every postseason win is big," Kinsler said. "We weren't at a point where it was a must-win. Going down 2-0 is not a good position. We got a split, and we head to their place. It's going to be tough, but we've got a shot."
The Rangers were trailing 3-0 when their big inning started with Shields plunking Elvis Andrus. Josh Hamilton followed with a single through the infield shift, and Michael Young also singled to load the bases.
Shields' next pitch smacked Adrian Beltre on the left leg to bring in the Rangers' first run. Napoli followed with the biggest at-bat of the rally, getting ahead 3-0 and battling Shields for five more pitches before delivering a two-run, game-tying single to left on the ninth pitch.
"I was just trying to hit a fly ball to the outfield and get another run in," Napoli said. "I was just trying to see a changeup and stay short [with his swing], and I got a changeup and drove it pretty well."
The Rangers then got a break as David Murphy was out at first on a tapper in front of the plate. Home plate umpire Kerwin Danley, though, called a foul ball because Murphy's bat hit the ball twice.
Murphy would eventually strike out, though, on a wild pitch that allowed Beltre to score the go-ahead run and Murphy to reach first safely. Moreland made it 5-3 when he drove in Napoli with a groundout.
After scoreless innings by starter Derek Holland (1-0) and Alexi Ogando, the Rangers added two more in the sixth on Kinsler's single for a seemingly comfortable 7-3 lead.
All seven runs came off Shields.
"We started making him get the ball up, quit chasing the changeup in the dirt and come in the zone," manager Ron Washington said. "Before you knew it, we were playing our game and ready to go."
But the first two Rays reached in the seventh against Koji Uehara. Evan Longoria followed with a three-run homer that silenced the crowd of 51,351.
Darren Oliver got the Rangers out of the inning, and Mike Adams was perfect in the eighth ahead of Moreland's 393-foot homer.
"In this playoff atmosphere, you can never have enough runs," said Moreland, who hadn't homered at home since June 21.
Neftali Feliz walked B.J. Upton with one out in the ninth, but got Longoria to pop a slider into center field and Ben Zobrist to fly out to right field.
Game over. Series even. Rangers feeling a whole lot better.
"It's a big win, of course," Feliz said. "This is a win that we needed to come back in this fight, and we got it."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760