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Rangers pound Shields to even ALDS with Rays

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After getting shutout in game one of the 2011 American League Division Series, the Texas Rangers looked more like their regular selves in game two as they erupted for an 8-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

It wasn’t all easy for the Rangers though as the Rays struck early when starter Derek Holland walked Friday’s hero Kelly Shoppach with the bases loaded to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Rays would add two more in the third as Matt Joyce hit a two-out, two-run home run to right field to make it 3-0 Rays.

However, that would be the last time the Rays had the lead in this one as the Rangers erupted in the fourth inning. The inning began with Elvis Andrus being hit by a pitch and continued with consecutive singles by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young to load the bases with no outs. The Rangers would score their first run of the series when James Shields hit his second batter of the inning, Adrian Beltre. With the bases still loaded and nobody out, catcher Mike Napoli came to the plate and delivered a two-run single to left as the capacity crowd chanted "Na-po-li! Na-po-li!"

The Rangers would take their first lead of the series when David Murphy struck out but was safe at first on a wild pitch by Shields, allowing Beltre to sore to make it 4-3. Texas would add their final run of the inning when Napoli scored on a Mitch Moreland groundout to shortstop, capping a five-run fourth inning.

After having a stellar regular season, Shields was rocked for seven runs on eight hits in five innings of work. It was also game two of the ALDS last year when the Rangers knocked Shields around in a victory.

Now staked to a lead, Holland came out for the fifth and allowed a leadoff double to B.J. Upton, but no damage was done because Napoli threw out Upton trying to steal third. Holland pitched five solid innings, allowing three runs, one earned, on six hits to pick up the victory in his first career postseason start.

The Rangers would keep rolling in the sixth with consecutive singles by Napoli and Nelson Cruz and a Moreland hit by pitch. With the bases loaded and one out, Ian Kinsler delivered an opposite-field two-run double to give the Rangers a 7-3 lead. However, the Rays wouldn’t go down without a fight as Evan Longoria drilled a three-run homer off Rangers’ reliever Koji Uehara in the seventh to bring the Rays within one.

But that would be as close as the Rays would get as the Rangers bullpen did their job the rest of the way. Darren Oliver came in and restored order in the seventh with a 1-2-3 inning while Mike Adams did the same in the eighth. The Rangers would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth as Moreland sent a solo homer deep into the Arlington night to give the Rangers an 8-6 lead.

Closer Neftali Feliz came in for the ninth and allowed a walk to Upton but nothing else. Feliz topped 100mph on the radar gun as he picked up his first save of the 2011 postseason, delighting the record crowd of 51,351 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The series now shifts to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay for games three and four on Monday and Tuesday. With the ALDS tied at 1, this is now a best-of-three series.

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