In the bottom half of the inning, McLouth -- who won a Gold Glove in Pittsburgh in 2008 -- made a fine defensive play on a ball to the warning track off the bat of Jayson Nix, who was playing shortstop for Jeter.
Nix rifled a ball in the left-center-field gap that McLouth made a leaping catch on just in front of the fence. Catcher Russell Martin, the runner at first, was already on his way to third, and McLouth was able to double him off first base after Hardy's relay throw.
Showalter entrusted left-hander Joe Saunders, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in an Aug. 26 trade, with the start in his second must-win game of the postseason.
Saunders, who held the Texas Rangers to one run on six hits over five innings in the Orioles' 5-1 wild-card win last Friday, held the Yankees' bats in check. Saunders allowed just three hits over 5 2/3 innings, yielding just one run in the sixth inning.
“It’s fun and it’s tense at the same time,” Saunders said. “I came back out [to the dugout] in the 10th or 11th and it felt like I had pitched yesterday. So it’s just one of those nights where it was a total team effort and we scratched out a victory.”
Over the first four games of the ALDS, Orioles starting pitchers have pitched to a 1.78 ERA (six earned runs in 30 1/3 innings).
Saunders, who struck out five and walked four, allowed at least one base runner in every inning. After he allowed a leadoff double to Nix in the third, he struck out the side -- getting Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Mark Teixeira all swinging -- and he was aided by inning-ending double-play balls in the fourth and fifth.
The Yankees tied the game on Robinson Cano's sixth-inning RBI groundout -- which came two batters after Jeter's leadoff double -- chasing Saunders from the game with two down and the go-ahead run on second.
Right-hander Tommy Hunter, who struggled to keep the ball in the park as a starter, overwhelmed Rodriguez with four fastballs of 97 mph or faster. Rodriguez swung through a 97-mph fastball to end the inning.
Right-hander Luis Ayala stranded runners on first and second in the seventh inning, striking out Jeter. But he allowed back-to-back singles to open the eighth.
The Orioles' bend-but-don't-break bullpen got out of that jam, too. Left-hander Brian Matusz, who gave up the game-winning homer in Game 3, got Cano to ground out for the first out. O’Day came into the game with one out and the go-ahead run on third, but he struck out Rodriguez and induced a flyout to right from Nick Swisher to end the threat.
And now for the third time in eight days, the Orioles will play in a game they must win to continue their magical season.
“This team has been doing that the whole year,” Saunders said. “Ever since I’ve come over here we’ve been scratching out extra-inning victories and that happened tonight. It was a good win. We needed it so we could play [Friday]. We’ve got a tough task ahead of us. And hopefully we can pull a victory [Friday].”