ARLINGTON -- In the annals of Rangers pitching, this will rank right up there with Kenny Rogers' perfect game, Nolan Ryan's two no-hitters and Cliff Lee's brilliance in the first two rounds of last year's playoffs.This one, though, may exceed them all, considering it came in the World Series and kept the Rangers from being pushed to the brink of elimination. Instead, Derek Holland rose to his finest moment with the Rangers and pulled his team even in the Fall Classic. Holland, pitching before 51,539 at Rangers Ballpark, held the Cardinals to two hits over 8 1/3 innings on Saturday night and the Rangers seized a 4-0 victory in Game 4. Neftali Feliz got the final two hitters, and the World Series is now tied at two games each. "Our pitcher was in complete control of the game ... that was the story of the game," Rangers designated hitter Michael Young said. "Every game in the postseason is huge -- every game is massive, and rightfully so -- but Derek pitched a great game tonight." This was a game the Rangers needed badly, especially after their pitchers allowed 16 runs the previous night and overworked their bullpen. Holland, who pitched four shutouts during the regular season, went into the game with a 5.27 ERA and a .316 opponents' batting average in three starts and one relief appearance this postseason, leaving the Rangers unsure of exactly what they might get from him.
|Derek Holland||25||TEX||8 1/3||2||0|
|Jerry Koosman||26||NYM||8 2/3||2||1|
What they got was a brilliant performance."I just wanted to make sure I could go out there and execute all of my pitches," Holland said. "That was the main thing. I wanted to go right after these hitters. I wanted to show that I belong here. ... I wanted to make a name for myself, and at the same time get momentum back on our side. "I knew it was a big game and I had to step up." Holland did just that, allowing just the two hits -- both by Lance Berkman -- and two walks while striking out seven. Albert Pujols was 0-for-4 after his five-hit, three-homer performance in Game 3 on Saturday. "He just worked us over and shut us down," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We needed him to go out there and pitch well and he did, and he showed the world what he's capable of doing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. This was the longest scoreless effort by an American League pitcher in the World Series since Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Braves in Game 5 back in 1996. Holland's performance also marked the first time that a pitcher has gone at least 8 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits or fewer in a World Series game since Nelson Briles did so for the Pirates in Game 5 of the 1971 Fall Classic. "He's got good stuff, obviously," Pujols said. "He kept the ball down and did a really good job today. Nothing is comfortable. You have to take every game, nothing for granted. It's a best-of-three [Series now]. Hopefully, we can get the first of those three tomorrow, and going back home, we would feel pretty good about it." Mike Napoli broke the game open with a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth off reliever Mitchell Boggs, who had just taken over for Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson. "That was a great win and a great game," outfielder David Murphy said. "Obviously, the two guys that stand out are Holland and Napoli, but we had great at-bats up and down the lineup. Down, 3-1, we definitely would have been in a tough spot. But we're not down, 3-1 -- we're 2-2. We're still at home, and we have a lot of confidence and momentum coming off this game." The first pitch of Game 5 is scheduled for 7:05 CT on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark, with lefty C.J. Wilson on the mound for the Rangers against right-hander Chris Carpenter. Tuesday is a travel day, with Game 6 scheduled for Wednesday and Game 7 -- if needed -- set for Thursday at Busch Stadium. "Tomorrow's game is going to be a key game for both teams," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We need the same energy, the same plan and to still be very aggressive against Carpenter." Andrus helped the Rangers take a first-inning lead against Jackson, reaching on a one-out single before coming around to score on Josh Hamilton's double into the right-field corner. That was Hamilton's second RBI of the World Series. "That was a special moment for Josh," Andrus said. "He has been having a hard time, and to get a hit like that was big." That 1-0 lead stood until the sixth. Jackson wasn't as sharp as Holland, but he was able to keep it a one-run game until his control issues finally caught up to him. The right-hander walked Nelson Cruz and Murphy with one out in the sixth, and that's when La Russa went to the bullpen. The Cardinals' bullpen also carried a heavy workload in Game 3, so La Russa called on Boggs to face Napoli. His first pitch was crushed by Napoli over the left-field wall to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead. "I know Boggs has a good sinker," Napoli said. "In that situation, he's probably trying to get a double-play ball. I was looking for something up and kind of had an idea they were going to try and pound me in. I just got a pitch up that I can handle." Boggs said that was exactly what happened. "He got a pitch that he was looking for," Boggs said. "I've got to keep the ball down on a guy like that. He's shown that he can do damage in the top of the zone. He's shown it all year. That's not a fluke. He didn't just run into one. He knows what he's doing. I've just got to make a better pitch right there, and that's what's disappointing." That was it for the offense, but the Rangers -- after their sloppy three-error performance in Game 3 -- also played outstanding defense behind Holland right from the beginning. Rafael Furcal led off the game with a scorching line drive that third baseman Adrian Beltre backhanded while going to his right. Second baseman Ian Kinsler, with Berkman on second, brought the second inning to a close when he ranged far to his right to backhand Yadier Molina's hard ground ball for the third out. That saved a run. "We played better defense -- we just played a better game," Kinsler said. "Just the way everything was in sync, the whole game was better." The Rangers needed this win badly, and Holland delivered it with a pitching performance that stands among the best in franchise history.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.