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Rangers 4, Cardinals 0

Rangers’ win ties up Series

Mike Napoli had some happy teammates waiting for him after belting a three-run home run in the sixth inning of Game 4 last night. Mike Napoli had some happy teammates waiting for him after belting a three-run home run in the sixth inning of Game 4 last night. (Mike segar/reuters)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 24, 2011

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ARLINGTON, Texas - As the Cardinals and Rangers prepared to take the field for Game 4 of the World Series last night, Texas manager Ron Washington pulled starting pitcher Derek Holland aside in the dugout.

Clamping his hands on Holland’s shoulders, Washington spoke forcefully to his pitcher before slapping him on the cheek like a boxing trainer and sending him out to start the first Series game of his career.

There was some baseball advice, Washington reminding Holland not to stray too far inside with his fastball against certain hitters. But mostly it was motivational.

“He’s really into it every time and he shows that he cares,’’ Holland said. “He definitely showed that today when he had a nice little talk with me.’’

It worked as Holland threw 8 1/3 dominant innings in a 4-0 victory that tied the Series. The lefthander allowed two hits, walked two, and struck out seven.

Game 5 will be tonight with Texas sending C.J. Wilson against Chris Carpenter in a rematch from Game 1, won by St. Louis.

Holland was denied the shutout by Washington, who pulled him after 116 pitches and sent in Neftali Feliz to finish. But Holland’s 8 1/3 scoreless innings were the most for an American League pitcher in a Series game since Andy Pettitte fell two outs shy of a shutout for the Yankees against the Braves in Game 5 in 1996.

There has not been a shutout in the Series since Josh Beckett beat the Yankees, 2-0, in Game 6 in 2003 for the Marlins.

Only four players in the St. Louis lineup had faced Holland before and none had more than five plate appearances against the 25-year-old from Ohio. The overmatched Cardinals hit only three balls out of the infield and grounded into 14 outs.

Holland threw 65 percent of his pitches for strikes, consistently working ahead in the count and getting the St. Louis hitters to chase fastballs high or swing feebly at sinkers.

A night after they beat the Rangers, 16-7, the Cardinals advanced only two runners past first base. Albert Pujols, 5 for 6 with three home runs and six RBIs on Saturday, was hitless in four at-bats.

“It’s not complicated,’’ said Lance Berkman, who had both Cardinal hits. “[Holland] is throwing 95 miles an hour from the left side. How many guys in the game do that as starting pitchers? There are a handful of them that are all studs. Jon Lester, CC Sabathia, [David] Price. There’s very few of them out there. If the guy throws strikes, it’s going to be very hard to hit him.’’

Holland came out of the game to a standing ovation from the crowd of 51,539 at Rangers Ballpark and waved as he entered the dugout.

“Obviously, this was a dream I wanted to do,’’ Holland said. “I wanted to pitch in the World Series and get a win. I felt like I was capable of going out there and doing that.’’

Josh Hamilton had an RBI double in the first inning and Mike Napoli a three-run homer in the sixth inning for the Rangers.

The Rangers scored quickly in the first inning against Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson.

Elvis Andrus singled to left field with one out and came around on a double into the right-field corner by Hamilton. Jackson then walked Michael Young and Nelson Cruz.

With the bases loaded and two outs, David Murphy chased the first pitch he saw - a low fastball - and flied out to left field.

Jackson went into the sixth inning having walked five, but allowing only the one run. That kind of good fortune was sure to run out eventually, and it happened in the sixth.

With one out, Jackson walked Cruz and Murphy. With his starter at 109 pitches, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went to righthander Mitchell Boggs to face Napoli.

Boggs’s first pitch was a chest-high 95-mile-per-hour fastball on the inner third of the plate and Napoli jumped at it like it was a piñata, sending it deep into the stands in left field for his third home run of the postseason.

“I know Boggs has a good sinker. In that situation he’s probably going to look for a double-play ball,’’ Napoli said. “I was looking for something up and kind of had an idea they were probably going to pound me in. I got a pitch that I could handle.’’

Holland did not pitch well in his two starts against Detroit in the American League Championship Series, allowing seven earned runs over 7 1/3 innings. But last night was reminiscent of the seven shutout innings he threw at Fenway Park Sept. 2. He allowed two hits and struck out six without a walk in that game, starting a demise from which the Red Sox did not recover.

“It’s in him,’’ Washington said. “And tonight he brought it out when we needed it the most.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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