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10/12/2012 11:25 PM EDT
The right stuff: Yanks beat O's, advance to ALCS
NY YANKEES 3, BALTIMORE 1

By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- CC Sabathia turned and looked over his right
shoulder, watching intently after Nate McLouth turned on a 93
mph fastball and sent it soaring down the right-field line.



Yankees-Orioles. Playoffs. Disputed home run.



Again.



McLouth's long drive was called foul by the slimmest of margins
- hello, Jeffrey Maier - and New York hung on to beat Baltimore
3-1 Friday in the deciding Game 5 of the AL division series.



Sixteen years later, the Orioles still can't find the right
stuff in the Bronx.



With Alex Rodriguez benched, the Yankees advanced to the AL
championship series against the Detroit Tigers, starting
Saturday night in the Bronx.



"It is still a long way to go," Sabathia said. "I still got
hopefully three or four more starts. So the job is not done
yet."



Sabathia pitched a four-hitter, wriggling out of a bases-loaded
jam in the eighth inning for his first complete game in 17
postseason starts, and the first for the Yankees since Roger
Clemens in 2000.



Yet it was another piece of history that this game evoked.



The Orioles were in a foul mood, stung on a close play in right
that echoed what happened across the street at the old Yankee
Stadium in the 1996 AL championship opener, on a fly ball
involving the young Maier that still stirs emotions in
Baltimore.



This time, with the Orioles trailing 1-0 in the sixth, McLouth
sent a 3-1 pitch deep. Eyes turned to right field umpire Fieldin
Culbreth, who demonstrably waved foul with both arms.



Orioles manager Buck Showalter jogged onto the field to ask for
a video review, and four umpires went down a tunnel on the
third-base side examine the images on a screen near their
dressing room. When they ran back onto the field about two
minutes later, they didn't make any signal - meaning the
original call stood. McLouth struck out on the next pitch,
ending the inning.



"I saw it go to the right of the pole," Culbreth said. "There is
netting there and it didn't touch the netting. It did not change
direction," he added, indicating he did not think the ball
grazed the pole.



Added crew chief Brian Gorman: "We saw the same thing on the
replay. There was no evidence to overturn the decision."



Showalter? Not sure.



"I couldn't tell. It was real close," he said.



McLouth wondered, too, what the umps would decide.



"It started off fair and it was just hooking a little bit. I
thought it was foul just in game speed," McLouth said. "A couple
of people mentioned it might've ticked the pole, but he was way
closer than I was and I was satisfied after they went down and
looked at the replay that it was foul."



That's the way Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher saw it.



"I didn't see any redirection," he said. "If it had hit, I would
have been the first to know."



Steven Ellis, a fan from the Broad Channel section of Queens,
caught the ball with his Yankee cap in the second deck.



"It was foul all the way, never hit the pole," he said.



Ada Cruz, sitting behind Ellis, added: "No way, no way. I
watched it and he caught it."



A stadium usher who wouldn't give his name, however, said he saw
the ball glance off the pole.



Back in 1996, the 12-year-old Maier reached over the wall above
right fielder Tony Tarasco and deflected Derek Jeter's fly ball.
Umpire Richie Garcia called it a home run, which tied the score
4-all in the eighth inning, and the Yankees went on to win in
the 11th.



"Just watching at home, I promise," Maier texted to The
Associated Press after this play.



Sabathia defeated the Orioles for the second time in six days,
Raul Ibanez hit a go-ahead single in the fifth off Jason Hammel
after former Baltimore high school star Mark Teixeira singled
and swiped second in a rare steal. Diving second baseman Robert
Andino just missed gloving Ibanez's hit.



Ichiro Suzuki added an RBI double of the right-center field wall
in the sixth. Curtis Granderson boosted the lead to 3-0 with a
second-deck solo homer against Troy Patton in the seventh.



Sabathia, who improved to 4-0 in his last eight postseason
starts, didn't allow an extra-base hit. He struck out eight and
walked two and matched his season high of 121 pitches.



"He didn't pitch all five, but it certainly felt like it, didn't
it?" Showalter said.



Since going winless in four straight starts in late August and
early September, Sabathia is 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA in five
outings.



"He's our go-to guy," Jeter said. "He's been our go-to guy since
he's been here."



Sabathia took a one-hit shutout into the eighth but allowed Matt
Wieters' leadoff single and Manny Machado's walk. Mark Reynolds
struck out, and Lew Ford - starting at DH in place of Jim Thome
- hit an RBI single.



Andino hit a bouncer to the third-base side that Sabathia
gloved, but Eric Chavez left third uncovered and Sabathia's
throw to second was late, leaving the bases loaded. With David
Robertson warming up in the New York bullpen, McLouth struck out
on a changeup and Sabathia escaped when J.J. Hardy hit a slow
three-hopper to shortstop that Jeter, playing on a sore left
ankle, charged and gloved elegantly before throwing to first
just in time.



Sabathia pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, finishing a 121-pitch effort as
Wieters hit a comebacker. The Yankees ran out of their dugout to
celebrate on the third-base side of the mound and the Orioles
walked off slowly and somberly.



New York doesn't have much time to get ready for the Tigers.
Andy Pettitte, the career postseason leader with 19 wins, starts
for the Yankees with a rested bullpen behind him, opposed by
Doug Fister.



"I came back to hopefully help this club get into this
position," Pettitte said.



For Baltimore, which beat Texas in the first AL wild-card
playoff, it was a disappointing ending to a renaissance season
for the proud franchise. The Orioles went 93-69, finishing
behind the Yankees in an AL East race decided on the final
night, and ended a streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons.



"It's been about as much fun as I have had in the big leagues
watching how they play the game every day, the standard they
held themselves to and the way they raised the bar in Baltimore
with each other," said Showalter, who has not reached the LCS in
14 major league seasons.



New York won for the 12th time in 23 meetings between the teams
in a matchup so close the Yankees outscored the Orioles 106-102.
The teams were within one run of each other at the end of 46 of
52 innings in the division series. New York totaled just 16 runs
in the five games and Baltimore 10, ending a dynamic six-week
struggle. After 10 different nights in September, the two rivals
were tied for first.



"They are a very good club and they are a very resilient club,"
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You have a bunch of young
kids over there that just play the game the right way and play
hard. And you think about it, we played 23 games, and there were
four runs that separated us. It's an accomplishment for both
clubs because they never went away. People thought they were
going to go away, they never went away."



A-Rod (2 for 16), Robinson Cano (2 for 22), Swisher (2 for 18)
and Granderson (3 for 19) all slumped against Baltimore. The
Yankees advanced despite hitting .219 with runners in scoring
position (7 for 32) - but Baltimore was 3 for 22 in that
situation during the three games in New York.



Slumping Orioles hitter included Wieters (3 for 20), Hardy (3
for 22) and Jones (2 for 23).



"It's just unfortunate a lot of guys got cold at the wrong
time," Adam Jones said.



With a 5:07 p.m. start on the first chilly night of autumn,
there was an unusual sight at Yankee Stadium at the start -
large patches of empty seats. And Baltimore fans could be heard
chanting "O" during "The Star-Spangled Banner." But the ballpark
filled up by the middle innings.



The 37-year-old Rodriguez, hitless in 12 at-bats against
right-handed pitchers with nine strikeouts, was a spectator,
too, in a decision that could have long-term repercussions for
the Yankees, who owe him $114 million over the next five
seasons. He did not speak with reporters after the game.



Chavez, who replaced A-Rod at third base, went 0 for 3 with a
pair of strikeouts.



In the Yankees clubhouse, where anything less than a World
Series is failure, the celebration was muted. Three postseason
wins down, eight to go.



"We'll enjoy this one for a few minutes," Jeter said, "and then
get ready for tomorrow"



NOTES: The crowd of 47,081 was the smallest in 18 postseason
games at new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. ... New York
is 11-3 in the ALCS. ... The 26 runs were the fewest in a
five-game postseason series since St. Louis (12) and Arizona
(10) combined for 22 runs in the 2001 NLDS.

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