- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2011

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 Texas victory evened the World Series at two games each.

“The catcher’s huge in a performance like that,” Ian Kinsler said. “He kept the rhythm of the game, talked to him a couple of times. He went to the mound to visit a couple of times, kept him on track, got him right back on track.”

Napoli also had that big hit.

Although Josh Hamilton put Texas ahead to stay with an RBI double in the first inning, Napoli delivered in the sixth with his three-run homer on the first pitch thrown by reliever Mitchell Boggs.

“I know Boggs has a good sinker. In that situation he’s probably trying to get a double-play ball,” Napoli said. “I just got a pitch up that I could handle.”

The Rangers have Game 5 at home Monday night before returning to St. Louis. They lost last year’s World Series in Game 5 without getting to go back to San Francisco.

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 win 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 to put the Rangers up 4-0.

“He’s usually taking pitches trying to work the pitcher, and he just stepped right up there and smashed that ball right over the fence, made it look pretty easy,” Kinsler said.

The crowd wasn’t satisfied until Napoli popped his head out of the dugout to acknowledge their cheers.

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