Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Cliff Johnson, in New York Yankee who looks most like a hangman may have saved his manager from the gallows tonight.
With New York fans counting the days and hours until Billy Martin's anticipated public execution, Johnson climbed the scaffold in the ninth inning tonight and cut the noose from around Martin's neck with a game-tying two-run pinch home run that prevented a 42 Baltimore victory.
What other irony would suffice in this Yankee season of dramatic excess but that Reggie Jackson, Martin's supposed arch-enemy, should lead off the 10th inning with a 420-foot homer for a 5-4 victory that put the Yanks just two games behind the first - place Orioles.
When the Orioles, winners of 17 of 22 before tonight, entered the ninth with Ross Grimsley protecting a 4-2 lead, the Yanks and Martin seemed to have reached a precipice that no Pauline could escape.
"We really had them whipped," said dejected Grimsley, who walked the leadoff man in the ninth, then headed for a shower.
With Grimsley finally out of gas, or oil the Yanks might claim for his greaseball, lefty Tippy Martinez entered. The Yanks could hardly wait to get at normal-speed pitches after Grimsley's slop.
Graig Nettles popped up, going for the fence. The ominous-looking Johnson stood barely 20 feet away, practically looking over Nettles shoulder he was to anxious to hit.
On the second pitch, Johnson rifled an opposite - field homer over the 353 foot sign in right to tie the score.
The Yanks loaded the bases against Martinez after Johnson's saving swat. But the fates set the stage for Jackson in the 10th.
Jackson stood at the plate and watched his rising liner - one of his truly breath-taking drives that disappear like a golfball - until it struck 15 rows up above the 385 sign.
"Oh, I wanted to check the score, make sure it was out, be certain everything was real," smiled Jackson, who has a "Be yourself" button above his locker now.
Certainly tonight's ending, like the entire Yankee season did not seem real.
Jackson finished the evening with a near-record slow motion trot that allowed a dozen Yanks to greet him as he strolled the last yards to the plate. Martin was not in evidence.
Until Cliff came along, this resembled a typical Oriole victory. Free-swinging Lee May drove in his 1,000th run with a first-inning walk (of all things). But it was Ron Singleton's three run homer in the third off Ed Figuero - one of the longest blasts in Stadium history - that looked like it would stand up all night.
The New York-raised Singleton, who sat in the centerfield bleachers of old Yandee Stadium as a boy: tonight became the first man to hit a ball into the black bleacher seats in lead centerfield in the two-year history off the remodeled stadium. The Yanks, protecting the legend of perhaps Micky Mantle who was the last man to reach those bleachers in 1964, conservatively estimated Singleton's homer at 437 feet for the new, easier-to-reach bleachers. Another 40 feet might be closer.