Garcia has fought back from an opening 76 with two rounds of 70
Sergio Garcia played himself into US Open contention with a one-under 70 that left him six off the lead going into the final day at Torrey Pines.
However, the 28-year-old Spaniard still faces a near impossible task to overhaul leader Tiger Woods.
"I started a little erratically but I made a couple of pars and started hitting it a bit better," he said.
"If you play well there are birdies out there. I'm slowly coming back but I'm going to need a good round tomorrow."
The world number seven is still chasing a maiden major title after losing a play-off to Padraig Harrington for the Open at Carnoustie last July.
But he won the biggest title of his career, the Players Championship on the PGA Tour, last month and was delighted with the way he had rebounded from an opening 76 with two 70s in California.
It's not easy. It's a US Open. That's why it's a major
"When you're comfortable with your game, when you have confidence in your game, you know you can come back," said Garcia, whose best US Open finish was a tie for third at Pinehurst in 2005.
"Even though I didn't make a lot of putts, I didn't miss a lot of the short ones you can miss in these conditions and that's nice. I felt like I played solid.
"Unfortunately, I just had a bad start on Thursday. I've just got to keep playing well, roll some good putts in and see what happens."
Garcia birdied two of the last five holes on a tricky day for scoring to creep back into the mix as a host of the leading contenders came back to him.
"I would love to be a couple better, just to make sure that I was a little closer," said Garcia, who has had 11 top-10 finishes in majors.
"But every time you shoot under par here you shouldn't be too greedy, I guess. It's not easy. It's a US Open. That's why it's a major."