ARLINGTON, Texas — Derek Holland kept Albert Pujols in the ballpark and the Rangers in this World 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 pitched 81/3 two-hit innings to beat the Cardinals 4-0 on Sunday night and even things at 2.
Holland never was in trouble against a team that had 16 runs the previous night. He came within two outs of pitching the first shutout in the World Series since Josh Beckett's gem for the Marlins 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.
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.
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. "I said, 'I'll give it everything I've got. I can get the double play.'
"When I came off the field my arm hair was sticking up — not like I have much."
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 the Yankees' Andy Pettitte went 81/3 at Atlanta in 1996.
Neftali Feliz took over. 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 once.
"I wanted him to see my 'A' game," Holland said.
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."
Holland was in tune all evening with Napoli, his friend and catcher. They helped the Rangers avoid their first consecutive losses since Aug. 23-25.
In last year's World Series, Holland came in as a reliever against the Giants, walked his first three batters and promptly got pulled.
This time the left-hander, 25, was completely poised, with pinpoint control. Perhaps it was the talk he got from Washington near the dugout shortly before taking the mound.
Washington put both hands on Holland's shoulders and talked to him tenderly. Holland kept nodding, and Washington finished with a pat to his cheek.
"He shows that he cares about all his players, and he definitely showed that when he talked to me," Holland said.