Seldom does a tight game end with a show-closing sight so tantalizingly dramatic, comic and rare as Ron Reed's gangling sprint for home tonight.
The 6-foot-6 Philadelphia reliever - stumbling and staggering - scored from second base with two out in the 10th inning on Larry Bowa's single to beat Los Angeles, 7-6.
For nearly three hours the National Leaguehas two defending division champs had battled, each rallying from three runs consecutive pitches that had Reed as their spotlight character, it was done.
When Phillie Manager Danny Ozark let Reed bat for himself in the 10th, Philadelphia star pinch-hitter Tim McCarver, in Ozark's words, "Dropped his bat and swallowed his tobacco.
Reed, after all, was 0 for '78 at the plate: that's 0 for 1978.
Moments later, after Reed had doubled on the first pitch by loser Jerry Reuss, the Phil dugout rang with cries of "Helluva move, Skip."
Reed's hooking line actually darted directly through the normal third baseman's position, but Ron Cey was guarding the line. Proper positioning backfired as the ball bounced to the wall in the corner.
As Reed panted at second, third-base coach Tony Taylor came out to stall for time.
"He wanted to point out third base to me", Reed said. "I'd forgotten where they kept it . . . I'm pretty slow - you know they time me with a calender - but I know if a hit made it to the outfield I was comin' home."
When the spunky Bowa slapped the first pitch into right field on the ground, the crowd of 31,140 rose to root Reed round the sacks. Dodgers right fielder Joe Ferguson, possessor of a catcher's arm, charged the ball.
The race was on.
"I wasn't too excited about going out there to pitch another inning," said Reed, who pitched the night before when the Phils also won in sudden death in teh 10th. "If they'd tried to stop me, I was goin' through the sign.
"I even hit the bag at third with the right (correct) foot, if you believe that. When I saw the catcher waiting to guard the plate, I said, 'What the hell do I do now"'"
A lesser athlete than Reed might have botched the gig. But Reed, from 1965 to 1967, played in both the majors and the National Basketball Association, grabbing more than 700 rebounds one season for the Detroit Pistons. That, however, was years ago. Now, he's 36.
Ferguson's throw was 10 feet up the line. Reed near the end of his thether, swerved around the catcher and dived in the dirt, tagging the plate with his bare hand as he slid past. Jackie Robinson couldn't have done better.
The Phils who have been kept out of th World Series the past two yers by these Dodgers, exploded from their dugout in a marvelous display of hand-slapping, head-pounding and general mayhem.
I've never seen this team do so many things well," exalted Bowa, whose Phils have now won 10 of 12.
The Dodgers, a slumping 8-11 and rife with bullpen ills, were in a Grade A grouch.
"The home cooking from this umpiring crew is so bad that I don't know how a team is going to win a game from the Phillies here as long as the umpires' strike lasts," exaggerated L.A. Manager Tommy Lasorda, who was ejected after four colorful tirades at home plate.
In support of Reed's heoics, this game featured the demise of old Jim Kaat, the redemption of Doug Bird and the first Phillie homer of Pete Rose - a 400-foot shot to the bleachers in right in the fourth.
The 40-year-old Kaat, last of the original Washington Senators, was a sad sight tonight, getting basted early.
Kaat, who broke in with the '59 Nats, may have ended a 261-win career tonight. All of Kitty Kaat's nine comeback lives seem to have been used up.
Kaat, who had not pitched an inning all season, had thtown the 100-pitch equivalent of a complete game in the bullpen every fourth day for weeks."How'd it go," his teammates would tease. "I just three-hit the Mets," Kaat would answer.
After walking four men in his last inning, Kaat said, "I can still pitch somewhere. But my future is not here." CAPTION: Picture Philadelphia's Pete Rose slides home under the tag of Los Angeles catcher Steve Yeager in third inning. UPI