Vladimir Guerrero hit the go-ahead two-run double during a four-run fifth inning for the Rangers, who captured Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in dominating fashion. Nelson Cruz added a two-run homer during the big frame.
Guerrero drove in three runs and Ian Kinsler added a sacrifice fly for Texas, which will open the Fall Classic on the road next Wednesday against either the San Francisco Giants or the Phillies. The Giants hold a 3-2 edge in the NLCS with Game 6 on tap Saturday night in Philadelphia.
Lewis (2-0) allowed just three hits and a run, while walking three batters. The right-hander fanned seven hitters before yielding to Neftali Feliz. In a fitting ending, Alex Rodriguez, who was signed to a 10-year, $252 million contract by the Rangers before being traded to the Yankees prior to the 2004 season, was called out on strikes to end the game. The Rangers rushed the field and piled on each other near the mound in celebration.
"He went out there tonight and certainly gave us everything he had," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Lewis. "He showed the heart, he showed the grit and everything he had to do tonight, he got it done."
The Rangers' 4-2 series victory over the defending World Series champions assured them of playing in the Fall Classic for the first time in the 50th year of the club. The expansion Washington Senators debuted in 1961, and the franchise moved to Texas starting with the 1972 season, but endured some tough times with just three playoff appearances before this year.
"Our fans have waited a long time, this organization has waited a long time," said Rangers president and co-owner Nolan Ryan. "This team coming out of spring training was on a mission and it's unbelievable the resiliency they had."
Texas also shed a postseason jinx against the Yankees. After winning three times on the road to beat Tampa Bay in the first round, the Rangers came into the ALCS having lost nine straight games to New York in the playoffs.
Josh Hamilton, who had four homers and seven RBI while hitting .350 in the series, was named ALCS MVP.
"This group is here because they don't know how to fail," Hamilton said. "The chemistry of the team is something like I've never known anywhere."
Yankees starter Phil Hughes (1-2) left after surrendering four hits and four runs over 4 2/3 innings. The righty was touched for 11 runs over 8 2/3 frames during the two losses in this series, both against Lewis.
"We had some opportunities in the series," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We didn't hit with runners on. And you never know exactly how much you give credit to the pitchers and how much it's your hitting. But we never seemed to get on track offensively in this series."
It was the finale to an emotional season for the Yankees, who were on a quest for an unprecedented 28th World Series title. Earlier this summer, the team mourned the loss of owner George Steinbrenner as well as long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard.
Mitch Moreland legged out an infield hit to start the fifth inning and advanced two bases on consecutive groundouts. Hamilton was then intentionally walked. Guerrero took a 1-0 pitch to the wall in left-center for a 3-1 lead. David Robertson was summoned from the bullpen, but Cruz connected for a homer over the wall in center field.
Lewis, who played the previous two seasons in Japan before returning to the team that drafted him in the supplemental round in 1999, retired six straight batters until Lance Berkman tripled with two outs in the seventh. Nick Swisher, though, flied out to left.
Lewis fanned three of the four batters he faced in the eighth before handing it over to Feliz.
After losing Wednesday in the Bronx, the Rangers struck early in Game 6. Elvis Andrus doubled to the gap in left-center field on the fifth pitch of the game from Hughes. Hamilton lined a single to left with one out and scored on Guerrero's slow bounce groundout to second base.
The Rangers had a chance to pad their lead in the third. Moreland walked to lead off. After two outs and Moreland on second, the Yankees elected to intentionally walk Hamilton, but Hughes' pitch went high and wide off the glove of Jorge Posada. Guerrero popped up with runners at the corners.
Lewis didn't allow a hit until a lead-off double by Rodriguez to left-center in the fifth. Rodriguez moved to third on Berkman's fly ball and scored after a blown call by home plate umpire Brian Gorman. A pitch from Lewis bounced before hitting the left shin of Swisher. The ball caromed away from Bengie Molina, but instead was ruled a wild pitch, much to the dismay of the veteran catcher. If Gorman had ruled the ball hit Swisher, it would have been first and third, but despite an argument from Molina the Yankees pushed across the tying run.
"It's hard to put into words. You work hard for one goal and that's to win. If you don't do it, then it's a disappointment," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is due to become a free agent after the World Series. "I can't compare it because it's always disappointing. It's tough to deal with. It's something that stays with you for a long time."
No franchise has taken longer to advance to its first World Series, though two active franchises - the Expos/Nationals (42 seasons) and the Mariners (34 seasons) - have never advanced to a World Series...The Rangers have homered in each of their 11 games this postseason...This was just the third series loss for the Yankees (11-3) in ALCS history.