Nate McLouth gave the Orioles a 2-1 third-inning lead by hitting a first-pitch fastball just past Cano into right field for a two-out, two-run single.
McLouth, whose season included being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates and spending most of the season in Triple-A Norfolk before an August call-up, has driven in four runs in two postseason games.
“We stayed in it as long as we could,” Davis said. “I think we had some opportunities early in the game to push some runs across, but we’re finding out what playoff baseball is all about. You’ve got to capitalize on every opportunity you give yourself, and we weren’t really able to do that.”
The Yankees, who outlasted the surging Orioles to win the American League East in a battle that went down to the final night of the regular season, took a 1-0 lead two batters into the game. Jeter slapped a leadoff single up the middle and scored on Suzuki’s opposite-field double into the left-center field gap on a full count.
The Yankees tied the game, 2-2, in the fourth when Severna Park native Mark Teixeira, the recipient of the loudest chorus of boos from the Camden Yards fans, came to the plate with runners at the corners and hit a RBI single high off the scoreboard in right field.
Hammel issued a pair of walks to place those runners there before Teixeira’s hit, which was fielded off the wall by right fielder Chris Davis, who threw Teixeira out at second on the fly for the second out.
After issuing an intentional walk to Curtis Granderson, Hammel’s first pitch to Martin — a 92 mph fastball — was high and tight, sending Martin to the ground. Two pitches later, Hammel induced a harmless fly out to center to end the inning.
Reliever Darren O’Day got the Orioles out of a huge jam in the seventh after Troy Patton issued back-to-back walks to Martin and Ibanez to lead off the inning. After Jeter bunted with two strikes to move both runners over, Suzuki hit a grounder to second baseman Robert Andino, who short-hopped a throw home to catcher Matt Wieters, who tagged Martin at the plate for the second out.
O’Day, who stranded 37 of 43 baserunners during the season, then struck out Rodriguez on an 87 mph fastball to end the inning.
Left-hander Brian Matusz, transformed from struggling starter to superb reliever, threw a scoreless eighth, striking out Granderson swinging with a 93 mph high fastball with a runner on first to end the inning.
Sabathia dodged trouble in the eighth after reaching the 100-pitch mark. After allowing a leadoff single to shortstop J.J. Hardy that hugged the right-field line, Sabathia got the next three outs, striking out Adam Jones, getting Wieters to pop up on the first pitch and inducing a ground out to short from Reynolds.
Now, the Orioles face another difficult challenge – as they have all season long – in not letting the series get away from them.
“We are not even supposed to be here, you know,” Reynolds said. “We are going to ride this thing out. They threw their horse tonight. He pitched a great game for them. We had that big hit; we couldn’t push anything across after that. We will come and battle back. That’s been our MO all year.”