Holland Dominates, Rangers Even Series


AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Mike Napoli took a mighty swing, tossed

his bat aside and trotted around the bases. Fireworks exploded in

the air, and Texas Rangers fans cheered wildly.

No wild throws, close plays or missed calls for Napoli in Game 4

of the World Series.

Back behind the plate, Napoli was a calming influence for Derek

Holland, the young left-hander who allowed two hits and pitched

into the ninth inning of the Rangers' 4-0 victory over the St.

Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. The Rangers' victory evened the

World Series at two games each.

"He has a real good feel for receiving and a real good feel for

what his pitchers are capable of doing," manager Ron Washington

said, "and he did a great job tonight of making sure."

The Rangers have Game 5 at home Monday night before returning to

St. Louis.

Although Josh Hamilton put Texas ahead to stay with an RBI

double in the first inning, Napoli delivered a big hit in the sixth

when he hit a three-run homer on the first pitch thrown by reliever

Mitchell Boggs.

After a weird Game 3, in which Napoli was in the middle of so

much that went wrong for Texas in a 16-7 loss, he promised the

Rangers would do what they've always done after losses - regroup

and expect to the next one.

That they did, with Napoli deserving a lot of the credit.

"It was behind me when I left the field," Napoli said of Game

3. "I didn't really think about it anymore. I knew we had to come

here and get a win, so I mean, came back today and went through my

routine and let it go."

Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson was pulled after walking Nelson

Cruz and David Murphy with one out in the sixth. With Napoli coming

up, and fans already breaking into their chants of "Nap-o-li!,

Nap-o-li!," St. Louis stalled for some time. Jackson even turned

to make a pickoff throw toward second base without throwing a pitch

to Napoli before Tony La Russa changed pitchers.

Boggs' first pitch was high in the strike zone. Napoli crushed

it, sending it 392 feet down the left-field line and put the

Rangers up 4-0.

The crowd wasn't satisfied until Napoli popped his head out of

the dugout to acknowledge their cheers.

It was the second homer of the World Series for Napoli, who hit

a career-best 30 in the regular season when he also set career

highs batting .320 with 75 RBIs.

Traded twice in five days last January to get to Texas after his

first five major league seasons with the AL West rival Los Angeles

Angels, Napoli turns 30 this winter.

Though Napoli had always been known as an offensive player who

could hit for power, he busted a few labels people had put on him

with his high average this season and the way he established

himself behind the plate.

When closer Neftali Feliz got the game-ending strikeout, Napoli

jumped up and thrust his right hand in the air. He then slammed it

against his mitt before tossing the ball to Feliz.

It was a much different scene than Saturday night's Game 3 when

Napoli played first base for the first time in this World Series.

He made a rushed throw home in the fourth that sailed past

catcher Yorvit Torrealba for an error that allowed two runs to

score by the Cardinals.

That came in a four-run outburst in the fourth that began when

second baseman Ian Kinsler made a wide throw to first to finish

what should have been a double play. Napoli reached wide to his

left to snag the ball, then with a sweeping motion tagged the

approaching runner squarely on the shoulder.

Almost as quickly, Napoli was holding his glove up in front of

first base umpire Ron Kulpa in utter disbelief after Matt Holliday

was ruled safe.

After the game, Kulpa acknowledged he missed the call. Napoli

refused to blame that call for anything, saying he could have

minimized the inning by making a good throw.

Less than 24 hours later, he was celebrating a victory in the

middle of the infield.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)