How else to explain Baltimore
rookie Wei-Yin Chen outpitching playoff-tested Andy Pettitte to beat the
New York Yankees in a game the Orioles couldn't afford to lose?
With Chen leading the way, the
Orioles squeezed out a 3-2 victory Monday night to even their AL
division series at one game apiece.
Chris Davis drove in two runs for
the wild-card Orioles, who used the same formula that got them into the
postseason for the first time in 15 years: a magnificent bullpen and an
ability to win tight games. Baltimore was 29-9 in one-run decisions
during the regular season and 74-0 when leading after seven innings.
Major league saves leader Jim
Johnson, roughed up for five runs in a Game 1 loss, came back to pitch a
perfect ninth to close it out.
"It's real easy, like I said last
night, to trust Jim Johnson," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
"He's done it a few times for us. He's having a special year, a special
Afterward, Orioles owner Peter Angelos shook hands with almost every player in the jubilant clubhouse.
"It is great that he was in
here," outfielder Adam Jones said. "Obviously it meant a lot to him as
much as it did us and the fans. He doesn't come in here a lot. He takes
care of business up there and we take care of it on the field.
Hopefully, the next time I see him he will be holding a trophy."
The rest of the best-of-five
series is at Yankee Stadium, beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday night.
Hiroki Kuroda will start for AL East champion New York against rookie
Miguel Gonzalez, who was 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts in the Bronx
this season, striking out 17 and walking only one in 13 2-3 innings.
Baltimore won all three series at Yankee Stadium this year.
"You definitely don't want to go
into New York in a five-game series down two games. This is big — having the day off tomorrow, hopefully building some momentum, and we
can take that into New York," Davis said.
Chen gave up two runs, one
earned, and eight hits over 6 1/3 innings. The Taiwan native, who
pitched previously in Japan, was 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in four outings
against New York this season, including two in September in which he
yielded a total of 11 runs over 11 1-3 innings.
"Chen did a good job of keeping
us in the game," Davis said. "To hold that offense to two runs is saying
something, and we were able to get timely hits when we needed it."
And now, the playoff series is tied after the teams split 18 games during the regular season.
"It seemed like Baltimore and us
have kind of gone back and forth all year, and that's what we did here,"
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Chen left with a 3-2 lead, and
the bullpen made it stand up. Johnson retired Derek Jeter and Ichiro
Suzuki on grounders and struck out Alex Rodriguez to end it in front of a
rollicking crowd at Camden Yards.
Much earlier, Suzuki's deft dancing at the plate put the Yankees ahead.
The 40-year-old Pettitte, whose
19 wins and 43 starts are the most in postseason history, allowed three
runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings.
"I thought he pitched a really,
really good game," Girardi said. "I thought he had really good command
of his fastball, his curveball, really all his pitches."
Pettitte came out of retirement
before this season to pitch again in the playoffs, and although he was
effective, Chen was better.
"It's a playoff game," Pettitte
said. "If you give up too many runs, that number doesn't have to get too
high until you know you're going to get a loss."
Pettitte, however, got little offensive backing. New York stranded 10 and went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"They were tough. We weren't
able to get the big hits with runners in scoring position," Pettitte
said. "It was a frustrating game and one you hate to lose. It would have
been nice to get this one, that's for sure."
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