The Orioles tacked on another run in the seventh. Rookie second baseman Ryan Flaherty hit a one-out single and was removed for pinch runner Robert Andino, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a wild pitch by reliever Derek Holland.
McLouth, one of the many reclamation projects who turned into a key member of the Orioles' run to the postseason, then singled to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the ninth, the O's added two more runs to their cushion. Jim Thome walked and Andino doubled to put runners on second and third. Manny Machado, the Orioles' 20-year-old rookie third baseman, delivered an RBI single to left, then McLouth hit a sacrifice fly.
“We’ve really stuck together,” McLouth said. “Ever since I’ve been here, there’ve been a lot of different contributions from a lot of different people. It takes a lot of pressure off people. We don’t count on on or two guys to come through every night. It’s been a great group effort.”
Because baseball rules allow teams to reset their postseason rosters after every series, Showalter had 10 relievers at his disposal.
But Darren O'Day, who was claimed off waivers in early November and has emerged as one of the most dependable middle relievers in the game, ate up most of those innings. O'Day tossed a season-high two scoreless innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced, before Showalter turned to left-hander Brian Matusz to face Hamilton.
Matusz struck out Hamilton — who was 0-for-10 with six strikeouts against Matusz, on three pitches — putting him away with a 93 mph fastball.
The Rangers loaded the bases against closer Jim Johnson, who led the majors with 51 saves in the regular season, bringing the tying run to the plate in David Murphy. But Murphy flied out to McLouth in left to end the game and send playoff baseball back to Baltimore for the first time in 15 firstname.lastname@example.org