By David Ginsburg/The Associated Press
BALTIMORE — The New York Yankees now must grudgingly acknowledge that these aren’t the same Baltimore Orioles they used to knock around with merciless ease.
Rookie Wie-Yin Chen outpitched 40-year-old Andy Pettitte, and the resilient Orioles beat the Yankees 3-2 Monday night to even their best-of-five AL playoff series at a game apiece.
Game 3 will be held Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore fell apart in the ninth inning of the opener Sunday, allowing five runs in a 7-2 defeat. Instead of wilting under the pressure of having to come from behind against the mighty Yankees on Monday, the Orioles stood strong.
“I think that’s been big for us all year, the fact that we’ve been able to put our losses and obviously our low points behind us, really learn from them and bounce back,” said right fielder Chris Davis, who had two RBIs.
Before this year, the Orioles endured 14 straight losing seasons and were 79-140 against the Yankees over that span. But during this wildly successful comeback season, Baltimore has thus far split 20 games with New York.
“They have a good team,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter conceded.
“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.
Baltimore’s turnaround from Game 1 was typified by the performance of closer Jim Johnson, who yielded all five of those ninth-inning runs on Sunday before finishing Monday’s game with a 1-2-3 ninth.
“(Sunday) night was just a hiccup,” Baltimore first baseman Mark Reynolds said. “He obviously showed what he was capable of tonight.”
Afterward, Orioles owner Peter Angelos made a rare appearance, shaking hands with virtually every player he came across in the clubhouse.
“It’s always good to see the man that signs your check,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “I think it means a lot to him and it obviously means a lot to the players to see the owner appreciates you going out there and busting your tail for him, for the organization and for the city.”
The Yankees, by virtue of finishing two games ahead of the Orioles in the AL East, have home-field advantage and will host the remainder of the games in the series. But Baltimore won all three series at Yankee Stadium and won’t be intimidated by playing there for the right to advance to the AL championship series.
“I think the biggest thing for us is we feel comfortable playing in New York,” Davis said.
Hiroki Kuroda will start for 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.
In Game 2, the Orioles used the same formula that got them into the postseason: 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.
“I think having our bullpen having been as consistent as it has been gives us that confidence in these one-run games,” Reynolds said. “Overall, we had the confidence today. Going into the ninth inning with a lead, we knew we were going to win.”
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.”
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.
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 hoping to pitch again in the playoffs. He was effective; Chen was just 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.”
After Davis hit a two-run single to put Baltimore up 2-1 in the third inning, Matt Wieters led off the sixth with a double and scored on a single by Reynolds to make it 3-1.
But New York came right back in the seventh. Eduardo Nunez got a double when Davis couldn’t catch his blooper to right and Jeter followed with an RBI single. After Suzuki hit into a fielder’s choice, Darren O’Day replaced Chen and struck out Rodriguez as Suzuki stole second. Brian Matusz came in and issued an intentional walk to Robinson Cano to set up a matchup with Nick Swisher.
Swisher was 1 for 18 lifetime against Matusz and 1 for his last 32 in postseason play with runners in scoring position. A wild pitch moved up the runners, but the percentages held up, as Swisher hit a routine fly ball to left.
The Yankees used the nifty footwork of Suzuki to take a 1-0 first-inning lead, and it had nothing to do with his speed on the basepaths.
Jeter led off the game with a single and Suzuki reached when Reynolds fumbled a bare-hand pickup at first base for an error.
Rodriguez hit a low line drive at second baseman Robert Andino, who caught it and doubled up Jeter. Cano followed with a drive to the base of the right-field wall for a double. The relay from Davis to Andino to Wieters beat Suzuki to the plate by plenty, but he dodged the tag coming toward home.
Suzuki then circled around the batter’s box, juked around the catcher’s desperate lunge and touched the plate an instant before Wieters’ glove found its mark.
Pettitte retired the first eight batters before Andino hit a bloop single with two outs in the third. Nate McLouth also singled, and a four-pitch walk to J.J. Hardy loaded the bases for Davis, who lined a single to right.
Jones followed by grounding a single just beyond the reach of Jeter at shortstop, but Hardy stopped at third after failing to spot third-base coach DeMarlo Hale waving him home. Wieters then popped out with the bases loaded.
In the fourth, the Yankees used two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. Nunez popped out before Jeter bounced into a forceout.
NOTES: It was the 16th start in a Game 2 for Pettitte, most in baseball history ahead of Tom Glavine (11). … NY 1B Mark Teixeira let a ball go through his legs in the fifth inning for an error, matching his total for the entire regular season. … Chen was 2-5 with 3.59 ERA in 10 postseason starts in Japan. He participated in the playoffs from 2008-11. … Suzuki has reached safely in all 12 of his playoff games. … Cano has 19 RBIs in 18 postseason games.