Holland, Rangers tie series
In a title matchup that’s getting more interesting with every game, Holland put the emphasis back on pitching. Given a pep talk by manager Ron Washington minutes before the game, Holland threw two-hit ball for 8 1/3 innings to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-0, on Sunday night and even things at 2-all.
Holland struck out seven, walked two and never was in trouble against a team that erupted for 16 runs the previous night. He 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,” Holland said. “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. Now the whole season is down to a best of three, with the outcome to be decided back at Busch Stadium.
Game 5 is tonight at Rangers Ballpark. It’s a rematch of the opener, when Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter topped C.J. Wilson.
A day after Pujols produced arguably the greatest hitting show in postseason history, tying Series records with three home runs, six RBIs and five hits during the Cardinals’ romp, Holland emerged as the unlikely star.
Holland got a big cheer when he took the mound in the ninth and was still throwing 96 mph. With the crowd chanting his name, he walked Rafael Furcal and was pulled by Washington after a long talk on the mound.
“I was begging to stay out there,” he said.
Holland tipped his cap and waved to the fans as he walked off. His outing was the longest scoreless appearance by an AL starter in the Series since Andy Pettitte also went 8 1/3 at Atlanta in 1996.
Neftali Feliz took over and closed. He walked Allen Craig, then retired Pujols on a fly ball and struck out Matt Holliday to end it.
Pujols finished 0 for 4 and hit the ball out of the infield only once.
Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “Well, I would just say he worked us over. Give him credit.”
“Good pitching is always going to stop good hitting,” he said.
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.