BALTIMORE — Sometimes, postseason experience isn't all that important.
How else to explain Baltimore rookie Wei-Yin Chen outpitching playoff-tested Andy Pettitte to beat the New York Yankees in a game the Orioles couldn't afford to lose?
With Chen leading the way, the Orioles squeezed out a 3-2 victory Monday night to even their AL division series at one game apiece.
Chris Davis drove in two runs for the wild-card Orioles, who used the same formula that got them into the postseason for the first time in 15 years: 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.
Major league saves leader Jim Johnson, roughed up for five runs in a Game 1 loss, came back to pitch a perfect ninth to close it out.
"It's real easy, like I said last night, to trust Jim Johnson," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "He's done it a few times for us. He's having a special year, a special year."
Afterward, Orioles owner Peter Angelos shook hands with almost every player in the jubilant clubhouse.
"It is great that he was in here," outfielder Adam Jones said. "Obviously it meant a lot to him as much as it did us and the fans. He doesn't come in here a lot. He takes care of business up there and we take care of it on the field. Hopefully, the next time I see him he will be holding a trophy."
The rest of the best-of-five series is at Yankee Stadium, beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday night. Hiroki Kuroda will start for AL East champion 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.
Baltimore won all three series at Yankee Stadium this year.
"You definitely don't want to go into New York in a five-game series down two games. This is big — having the day off tomorrow, hopefully building some momentum, and we can take that into New York," Davis said.
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."
And now, the playoff series is tied after the teams split 18 games during the regular season.
"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.
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.
The 40-year-old 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 to pitch again in the playoffs, and although he was effective, Chen was 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."
Cardinals 12, Nationals 4
At St. Louis, Carlos Beltran hit the last two of the Cardinals' four homers and St. Louis chased an ineffective Jordan Zimmermann early to tie their NL division series at one game apiece
Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso also went deep to help the defending World Series champions build a big lead that compensated for a two-inning start from Jaime Garcia. Craig hit his fifth career postseason homer and scored three times.
Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit consecutive homers in the fifth for the Nationals, who head home for the remainder of the best-of-five series. But the NL East champions are without All-Star ace Stephen Strasburg, shut down for the rest of the season early last month to protect his surgically repaired arm.
Game 3 is Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park. Edwin Jackson starts for Washington against longtime Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who made only three starts during the regular season because of injury.
There were no lineup changes in Game 2 of the division series, just a lot more clutch hitting from players accustomed to October pressure. Beltran homered twice in the postseason for the third time in his career, connecting in the sixth off Mike Gonzalez and eighth off Sean Burnett. Jon Jay had two hits and three RBIs, plus an outstanding catch at the center-field wall to deprive Danny Espinosa of extra bases in the sixth.