The visitors out-scored McCall's side two tries to one - Dan Murphy and Akapusi Qera both going over either side of half-time - but they also had two men sent to the sin bin.
Saracens scored 12 of their points when Murphy in the first half and Sione Kalamafoni in the second were off the field, including Richard Wigglesworth's decisive try on the hour mark.
Hodgson was back in action earlier than expected, having undergone surgery on a broken cheekbone, suffered last month against London Wasps, and McCall is convinced his return was crucial as Sarries moved to second.
And McCall also singled out young prop Nick Auterac, who stood firm at the death as Gloucester tried to force a late penalty try with their powerful scrum.
"It was great to welcome back someone of Charlie Hodgson's experience, not only his goal-kicking but his management of the game," he said.
"It was a very close, tightly-fought match and we're just happy we've come out on the right side of it.
"Last week [against Worcester Warriors], when we got some setbacks we didn't respond but this week we did. They got their charge-down try which was an unfortunate try to concede but we bounced right back and played some good rugby.
"The team showed a lot of character. We brought on Nick Auterac, who hasn't got much Premiership experience, for a couple of scrums on our line - so maybe it wasn't the kindest thing I've ever done to him.
"But that last scrum was amazing. He's a really talented kid who's come through our academy. We're well blessed with looseheads and Nick is going to be the future."
Auterac and co had to withstand three Gloucester scrums at the death and were penalised on the first two, only to force a penalty of their own on the third.
That ended the match, meaning Gloucester had to make do with the losing bonus point, and director of rugby Nigel Davies believes his side could easily have been awarded the penalty try.
"We outscored them two tries to one but we could have been a lot better and we always look at ourselves first, there was plenty of room for improvement," he said.
"It was hugely frustrating, some of the stuff that was going on, in the first half we couldn't get a phase going, every time there was a tackle there seemed to be a penalty.
"It could have gone either way at the end. There were a couple of big calls that the referee had to make. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't.
"You wonder when the first two scrums weren't sufficient to merit a penalty try. On another occasion they would have been, I'm sure."
Saracens: Wyles; Strettle, Tomkins, Taylor (Ratuvou, 73), Short; Hodgson, de Kock (Wigglesworth, 56); Gill (Auterac, 76), Smit (George, 76), Stevens (Du Plessis, 76), Borthwick, Botha (Hargreaves, 77), Kruis, Fraser, Joubert (Saull, 41)
Not used: Mordt
Gloucester Rugby: Cook; Sharples, Molenaar, Tindall (Taylor, 62), Thomas (Monahan, 52); Twelvetrees, Cowan (Robson, 72); Murphy (Wood, 54), Dawidiuk (Britton, 60), Harden (Knight, 54), James, Hamilton, Savage (Cox, 77), Qera, Kalamafoni
Not used: Buxton
Penalties: Hodgson 7
Tries: Murphy, Qera
Conversions: Twelvetrees 2
Penalties: Twelvetrees 3
Referee: Sean Davey