The singer, who has a bruised vocal chord, and Scotty McCreery face elimination Wednesday night

By Lorenzo Benet
May 25, 2011 06:00 PM
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Saying a little prayer and receiving a steroid dose from a doctor worked wonders for Lauren Alaina, who managed to compete against Scotty McCreery on Tuesday’s American Idol despite a bruised vocal chord.

“I knew somehow God would get me through it,” she said at a press conference afterward, writing her words, which were then read by McCreery, on a notepad.

Nevertheless, McCreery was impressed by his rival. “I was ready to cry when she was singing,” he said after the show.

Fans cast record 122 million votes, and a winner will be declared on Wednesday night. But it will be a tough choice considering both artists sing country music.

“The country fans have been so great to both of us,” McCreery, 17, told reporters, “and they kept us around. We’ve been singing our hearts out every week. We love the fans who put us through.”

Alaina, 16, received a dose of steroids and was cleared to perform just 45 minutes before Tuesday’s show, a source close to her family tells PEOPLE. “She received the steroids to calm the vocal chord and the swelling,” the source says.

It’s a course of treatment that’s common, says Idol judge Steven Tyler, noting that he’s used steroid injections to treat vocal problems while touring with Aerosmith. And though he says it may feel rough the next day, he predicted Alaina would “kill it” on Wednesday’s finale.

“When Lauren sang at her first audition, I stood up and said ‘Thank you Jesus,’ ” says Tyler. “Others try and hit the notes, but her words just go to that place.”