Baltimore Orioles’ Nate McLouth, left, Endy Chavez (27) and Adam Jones celebrate winning Game 2 of the American League division baseball series against the New York Yankees on Monday in Baltimore. Baltimore won 3-2.
BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles never lost sight of the New York Yankees in September, drawing even with them 10 times in the American League East, pushing them harder than most expected.
As September rolled into chilly October, the Orioles have drawn even once again, in a best-of-five division series. The Orioles bounced back from a bitter loss in Game 1 Sunday for a 3-2 victory Monday behind a stubborn performance from their rookie starting pitcher, Wei-Yin Chen. The season comes down to a best-of-three, with the remaining games at Yankee Stadium, beginning today.
Chen, the Taiwanese left-hander who pitched professionally for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan for five years, held the Yankee bats in check. He allowed only two runs, one of them earned, in 6 1/3 innings before leaving in the seventh to a standing ovation from a delighted crowd of 47,187 fans at Camden Yards, the largest attendance of the season here.
They would be further reassured when Jim Johnson, the closer who imploded the night before in Baltimore’s 7-2 loss, set down the Yankees in order in the ninth, striking out Alex Rodriguez to seal the win.
Andy Pettitte, the 40-year-old starter making a record 43rd postseason start for the Yankees — and his first since 2010 — was equally stubborn. But he allowed three runs in seven innings, and with Chen outperforming him, he took the loss and fell to 19-11 in the postseason.
Pettitte did not allow a hit until two outs in the third, and then things momentarily went sideways for him. Robert Andino reached on a bloop single, Nate McLouth singled to center, and J.J. Hardy drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases.
The fans erupted when Chris Davis singled to right field, scoring Andino and McLouth, and Hardy settled into second base. But Hardy’s trip around the bases would not be without incident. He should have scored on the next play, but was fooled by Rodriguez into holding at third, and it cost the Orioles a run.
Chris Jones hit a ground ball to the hole on the left side of the infield and it got under Derek Jeter’s glove and dribbled into left field. It was rolling slowly enough that Hardy should have scored easily, but Rodriguez held out his glove as if he were about to get a throw, and Hardy stopped at third.
What he didn’t see was third base coach DeMarlo Hale emphatically waving him home, and the inning ended when Matt Wieters popped up to Robinson Cano at second.
They added another in the sixth when Wieters doubled to center and Mark Reynolds singled him home by taking a pitch and scooting it past Cano and into right field. Pettitte struck out Jim Thome and then got Manny Machado to hit a bouncer back to him.
As Pettitte initiated the double play, he waited for its completion and then slapped his glove with his pitching hand in anger as he walked off the mound. He had done well to pitch around the fielding mistakes of his teammates — Jeter’s error in the fourth and Mark Teixeira’s in the fifth — but was incensed for giving up the two clean hits as the Orioles went up, 3-1.
The Yankees pulled within a run in the seventh, thanks largely to Eduardo Nunez’s hustle. Nunez, the designated hitter and batting ninth, reached second on a bloop into shallow right and then chugged home on Jeter’s bloop to left.
But the tying run, in the person of Ichiro Suzuki, was stranded after Darren O’Day struck out Rodriguez, who went 1 for 5, and Brian Matusz got Nick Swisher to fly out to left.
Just as it was in Game 1, the Yankees had an opportunity to score multiple runs in the first inning, but had to settle for only one, and after that Chen slipped into a groove. Jeter led off the first with a single to center and Suzuki reached on an error by Reynolds.
Rodriguez drilled a ball up the middle, but Andino made a diving catch and then stepped on second base to double off Jeter. Cano then hit a double into the corner and Suzuki came running home, perhaps foolishly. He should have been out by several steps as the throw from right field was in plenty of time to get him.
But as Wieters waited for Ichiro, he took a wide detour to the right and avoided Wieters’ lunge and scrambled back toward the plate as Wieters lunged again. On the second attempt Ichiro held up for an instant, arched his body to avoid the tag, and reached down and touched the plate.
Somehow, incredibly, he was safe, although the fans and Orioles manager Buck Showalter vehemently disagreed. When play resumed, Swisher grounded out and the Yankees lead was only 1-0. With Chen about to go to work, it was not going to be enough.
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