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ARLINGTON, Texas - Mike Napoli kept fouling off pitches while Texas Rangers fans chanted his name.
"It was pretty loud, too, and when I heard it, I was like you guys can't do this to me right now in this situation," Napoli said.
He came through anyway.
Napoli's tying two-run single in a five-run fourth inning against suddenly wild Tampa Bay starter James Shields sent the crowd into a real frenzy. It also propelled the Rangers to an 8-6 win Saturday night over the Rays to even the AL division series at a game apiece.
The defending American League champion Rangers had just gotten their first run of the series when Shields hit his second batter of the inning, a fastball near the left knee of Adrian Beltre that forced in a run.
When Shields threw three consecutive balls to Napoli, the chants of "Nap-o-li!, Nap-o-li!" began and only grew louder with each swing. Napoli swung and missed at two pitches, then fouled off three consecutive.
"The whole stadium is chanting his last name, and I get the chills," teammate Ian Kinsler said. "I don't know how he is up there staying focused. ... He kept battling and battling."
Finally on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Napoli ripped a liner to left that tied the game at 3.
Manager Ron Washington pumped both fists with a shout, team president Nolan Ryan clapped in the front row nearby and those chants turned to earsplitting cheers from a towel-waving crowd of 51,351.
"That hit turned the switch on," Elvis Andrus said.
Then Shields really got wild, throwing two wild pitches while David Murphy was at the plate.
Murphy fell behind 0-2, though he worked back to a full count with a couple of foul balls and a wild pitch that allowed Beltre and Napoli to move up a base.
Napoli came home on Mitch Moreland's grounder.
"I thought he had some really good stuff. He had nice tempo and rhythm about him, and all of a sudden a couple of hit batters. That's real unusual," manager Joe Maddon said. "He was composed, he was fine. He just hit a couple of guys. He was just trying to make an even better pitch and that's what got him in trouble right there."
The home team finally won a postseason game between the Rangers and Rays.
Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Monday in Tampa. Colby Lewis pitches for the Rangers against David Price.
Texas finally got on the scoreboard in this series after being held to two hits in the opener by 22-year-old rookie left-hander Matt Moore and two 20-something relievers in Tampa Bay's first-ever postseason shutout.
"It was very satisfying because Tampa has some great pitching over there, and pitching usually settles down a great offense," Washington said. "But we kept grinding and kept grinding, and, you know, I think we got our confidence back."
Texas was trailing 3-0 when Andrus was hit by a breaking pitch leading off the fourth. Josh Hamilton then singled between the shortstop and the second baseman, both positioned on the right side of the infield against the slugger. Michael Young's sharp single to left loaded the bases before Beltre got hit by the pitch.
Napoli and Cruz had consecutive singles to start the sixth and chase Shields. Kinsler sent both of them home with a double to make it 7-3. Moreland added a towering one-out homer in the eighth for the Rangers, their first long ball of the postseason and his first at home since June 21.
The double by Kinsler and home run by Moreland wound up being huge in the rematch of last year's AL division series, when the visiting team won every game in the five-game series — the only time that has ever happened in the majors.
Texas was 0-7 all-time in ALDS games at home, including four to the New York Yankees over three series in the 1990s, until now.
Two trades in a matter of five days last winter sent Napoli to Texas. The catcher-first baseman played the first five seasons of his career with the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels, before he was traded last winter to Toronto and then dealt only four days after that to the Rangers. He set career highs by hitting .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBIs.
Fans were chanting Napoli's name again in the fifth when he threw out B.J. Upton trying to steal third base.
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