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Texas relies on Holland to silence Cards’ bats

Texas relies on Holland to silence Cards’ bats

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 7:01 pm

By BEN WALKER
AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Inning by inning, this World Series is getting more intriguing.
Derek Holland provided the latest twist, boosted by a pregame pep talk from his manager. The Texas lefty shut down the St. Louis Cardinals on two hits into the ninth inning, and the Rangers won 4-0 Sunday to even things at 2-all.
A day after Albert Pujols set a team record by scoring 16 runs in a postseason game, they never got close against Holland.
“When I came off the field, arm hairs are sticking up. It’s not like I have much, but man, it was tingly,” Holland said.
Rangers manager Ron Washington came to the mound after 81⁄3 innings following Holland’s second walk of the game. So close to a shutout, and with the crowd chanting his name, Holland pleaded his case, trying to talk his way into staying in.
“He was begging,” Washington said. Or, as Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler described it: “A lot of profanity, we sounded like sailors out there.”
Washington listened, then signaled for closer Neftali Feliz. Holland had done his job in Game 4, and then some. He had kept Pujols in the ballpark and the Rangers in this Series.
“Now it’s a best out of three,” Pujols said. “See who can win two games. At the end, that’s who is going to be raising the trophy.”
Holland struck out seven and came within two outs of pitching the first complete-game shutout in the World Series since Josh Beckett’s gem for Florida to clinch the 2003 title at Yankee Stadium.
“I was very focused. I knew this was a big game for us,” said Holland, who was 16-5 with 3.95 ERA and four shutouts in the regular season. “I had to step up and make sure I was prepared.”
Hobbled Josh Hamilton put Texas ahead with an RBI double in the first inning. Then Mike Napoli broke it open with a three-run homer in the sixth that set off a hearty high-five in the front row between team president Nolan Ryan and former President George W. Bush.
And just like that, for the first time since 2003, the World Series stood at two games apiece.
Game 5 is tonight at Rangers Ballpark. It’s a rematch of the opener, when Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter topped C.J. Wilson. After that, it’s back to Busch Stadium to crown a champion.
Pujols produced arguably the greatest hitting show in postseason history in Game 3, tying Series records with three home runs, six RBIs and five hits during the Cardinals’ romp. However, Holland has now emerged as the unlikely star.
Pujols finished 0-for-4 and hit the ball out of the infield only once.
“I wanted him to see my ‘A’ game,” Holland said.
Feliz took over and closed. He walked Allen Craig, then retired Pujols on a fly ball and struck out Matt Holliday to end it.
Holland was in tune all evening with Napoli, his pal and catcher. Much better than the battery for the pregame ceremony — Bush tossed a wild pitch that glanced off the catcher’s mitt Ryan wore.
“I should’ve gone with the regular glove,” Ryan said with a chuckle.
The bounce-back Rangers managed to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since Aug. 23-25, a streak that’s kept them out of trouble in the postseason.
The Rangers also completed a Sunday sweep in the matchup of teams from St. Louis and the Dallas area. Earlier in the afternoon, the Cowboys beat the Rams 34-7 right across the parking lots. Hamilton and Lance Berkman served as honorary captains for the pregame coin toss, wearing their baseball uniforms.
Many fans might remember Holland from last year’s World Series. He’s the reliever who came in against San Francisco, walked his first three batters and promptly got pulled.
Maybe that guy was an impostor. Because this 25-year-old lefty with the sorry little mustache was completely poised, with pinpoint control. Perhaps it was the talk he got from Washington near the dugout shortly before taking the mound.
 Published in The Messenger 10.24.11

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