The Texas Rangers shut down the bats of the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols in a 4-0 win that ties the World Series at two games apiece.
Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz combined on a two-hit shutout in Arlington, Texas, a day after St. Louis scored 16 runs in a Game 3 victory, with Pujols hitting three home runs. Holland pitched 8 1/3 shutout innings last night.
“I was very focused,” Holland said in a televised interview. “I knew this was a big game for us, I knew I had to really step up and I made sure I was prepared.”
Josh Hamilton had a run-scoring double in the first inning for Texas and Mike Napoli added a three-run home run in the sixth as the Rangers avoided back-to-back losses for the first time since Aug. 23-25. Texas also avoided falling behind 3-1 in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven World Series.
The Rangers will host Game 5 today before Game 6 in St. Louis on Oct. 26 and a potential decisive seventh game there the following day.
C.J. Wilson will be the Rangers’ starting pitcher tonight against Chris Carpenter of the National League-champion Cardinals. Wilson has an 0-3 record with a 7.17 earned run average this postseason, while Carpenter is 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA.
“We’ve got a best-out-of-three series now,” Napoli said in a televised interview.
Holland, pitching for the first time in eight days, helped the Rangers rebound from their 16-7 Game 3 loss in which the Cardinals pounded out 15 hits. The 25-year-old left-hander held St. Louis to two hits, striking out seven batters and issuing two walks.
Pujols went 0-for-4, a game after joining former New York Yankees Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only players with three homers in a World Series game. Lance Berkman had the only hits for St. Louis.
The Rangers jumped out to a quick lead against Cardinals starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, with Elvis Andrus hitting a one-out single in the bottom of the first inning and scoring on Hamilton’s double to deep right field.
It remained a one-run game until the sixth inning, when relief pitcher Jason Motte took over after Jackson issued consecutive one-out walks, his sixth and seventh of the game. Napoli drilled Motte’s first pitch into the left field seats for a 4-0 Rangers lead.
“I was looking fastball, try to get something up in the zone and drive it somewhere,” said Napoli, who is the first catcher to hit two homers in a World Series since Mike Piazza for the 2000 New York Mets. “I got the pitch I could handle and did a good thing with it.”
No Complete Game
Holland, who was seeking to become the first American League pitcher to throw a complete-game World Series shutout since Minnesota’s Jack Morris in 1991, was taken out after issuing a one-out walk in the ninth inning.
“I was begging to stay out there,” Holland said of his meeting on the mound with manager Ron Washington. “I told him, ‘I’m going to give it everything I’ve got, I can get this double play, I’m feeling really good, just let me finish.’”
Holland, who went 16-5 for the Rangers during the regular season, received a standing ovation as he left the mound. Feliz walked the first batter he faced and then retired Pujols on a fly ball before striking out Matt Holliday to end the game.
It’s the first time the World Series has been tied at two games apiece since 2003, when the Florida Marlins beat the New York Yankees. Washington said Holland’s performance helped keep alive the Rangers championship chances, as teams trailing 3-1 in the World Series had gone on to lose 38 of 43 times.
“We needed him to go out there and pitch well, and he did,” Washington said at a news conference. “He showed the world what he is capable of doing.”