- Associated Press - Sunday, October 23, 2011

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals followed up their greatest World Series performance with one of their meekest.

Pujols went hitless in four at-bats a day after hitting three home runs and the Cardinals mustered only a pair of hits on their way to a 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers that evened the series at 2 games each.

The dropoff was stunning. After scoring a franchise Series-best 16 runs in Game 3, they didn’t even get anyone past second base in Game 4.

“They worked us over,” manager Tony La Russa said.

The only time they’ve done worse in 17 previous trips to the World Series was in Game 2 in 1967, when they got a single hit off Boston’s Jim Lonborg.

St. Louis went three-up, three-down in five of eight innings against Texas starter Derek Holland, a 25-year-old left-hander who’d struggled to get through the middle innings this postseason.

Holland walked Rafael Furcal with one out in the ninth, then closer Neftali Feliz walked Allen Craig. That brought up Pujols with a chance to shake things up. Instead, he hit a line drive to center field that wasn’t deep enough to advance the runners. Matt Holliday struck out swinging to end it.

Lance Berkman had both of the Cardinals‘ hits. The only other baserunner off Holland was Nick Punto, who walked.

As for Pujols, he followed his three-homer, six-RBI effort by failing to get the ball out of the infield his first three at-bats. In batting practice, he fell wildly taking a cut on a pitch and laughed it off, but the way things played out, it was as if his mojo was gone. For one night, at least.

Now the Cardinals are guaranteed of taking the World Series back to St. Louis. They’ll have ace Chris Carpenter on the mound for Game 5 on Monday night in Texas, but the bats will have to come alive at least a little if they are to regain control of this series.

Starter Edwin Jackson kept the Cardinals in the game, allowing only a run in the first inning before getting into trouble in the sixth. He put two on, then Mike Napoli met reliever Mitchell Boggs’ first pitch by crushing it for a three-run homer.

Yet St. Louis had its chances.

Down only 1-0 through sixth innings, every batter represented at least the tying run.

Berkman got into scoring position with a one-out double in the second inning, but was stranded when David Freese struck out and Yadier Molina grounded out.

Berkman led off the fifth with a single, only to get wiped out right away when Freese grounded into a double play.

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