NEW YORK (AP) - CC Sabathia pitched a four-hitter as the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 and will now face the Detroit Tigers in the AL Championship.
Nate McLouth's bid for a tying homer in the sixth inning was ruled foul by the slimmest of margins. Sabathia hung on in the late innings for his first postseason complete game and defeated the Orioles for the second time in this division series.
Baltimore again was stung on a close play in right, echoing what happened across the street at the old Yankee Stadium in the 1996 AL championship opener.
This time, with the Orioles trailing 1-0, McLouth sent a 3-1 pitch deep down the right-field line. Eyes turned to right field umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who demonstrably waved foul with both arms.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to ask for a video review, and five of the umpires went down a tunnel to examine the images. 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.
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, 12-year-old Jeffrey 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, now a grown man, texted to The Associated Press after this play.
The ALCS opens Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Raul Ibanez hit a go-ahead single in the fifth off Jason Hammel and Ichiro Suzuki added an RBI double in the sixth.
Curtis Granderson boosted it to 3-0 with a second-deck solo homer in the seventh. The Yankees advanced following their decision to bench slumping third baseman Alex Rodriguez, their $275 million man.
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