And you thought Tippi Hedren looked scared in Alfred Hitchcock's horror film "The Birds."

Tonight it was the New York Yankees and their Big Apple fans who found out how upsetting the sound of wings can be.

After this evening's 5-2 Baltimore victory over the New York pitching firm of Guidry and Gossage, the Yankees can be forgiven if, instead of footsteps, they hear the flutter of feathers close behind them.

This defeat, which cut the Yankee lead, once 11 games, to just 4 1/2, was of the most disintegrative sort to New York confidence, while for the redhot Birds it was easily the most inspirational rally of the season.

The Yanks' buzz saw, Ron Guidry, had a 2-1 lead with two outs and none on in the Baltimore eighth. The Pinstripes appeared to have the first of eight vital head-to-head Bird-Yank meetings in 11 days well in hand.

Then steady Eddie Murray transformed a game, and perhaps this season, with one game-tying home run, a 420-foot blast to the right field bleachers on a full-count slider on the outside corner by loser Guidry.

"People are going to be talking about Murray with awe for 20 years," Ken Singleton said after watching Murray go four for five tonight.

"That one swing by Murray was the heart of the game," said Yankee Reggie Jackson. "That's the one I'd like to think I hit in spots like that. That's the juice, the one that counts. The rest doesn't happen without it. People don't understand: it's the game-tier that's tough. The pecking away that comes afterward is a lot easier."

That Birdlike pecking-away followed with an inexorable and infuriating self-assurance that left the Yanks stunned.

After Murray's blast, Bennie Ayala, who had tied the game 1-1 in the sixth with a one-hop ground-rule double over the 430-foot sign in left, practically parted Guidry's hair with a liner to center to kayo the semi-sharp southpaw.

Doug DeCinces and pitch hitter John Lowenstein hit back-to-back bloops -- really just two routine soft flies, neither of which should have dropped. Left fielder Bobby Murcer misplayed the first into a double, while center fielder Ruppert Jones, far out of position in deepest center, let the second hump-back fly fall six feet in front of him for a two-run game-winning hit.

"Just a fly ball," said Lowenstein, who now has three game-winning pinch hits in 13 days -- all of them the humblest of dribblers or bloops into center field. "I was lucky to do that well. The first two strikes sounded like good pitches, but I couldn't be sure. I only heard them. I've never been in the vicinity of two harder pitches."

The Yankees were so enraged by the DeCinces bloop double, claiming that Murcer had made a shoestring catch after breaking back at the crack of the bat, that both General Manager Gene Michael and George Steinbrenner, the team owner, issued statements after the game second-guessing umpire Durwood Merrill.

"I let the first bloop bother me too long," said a furious Gossage. Then on the second one, we were playing deep; make that real deep. Unless I just absolutely blow 'em away, I don't know what more I can do.

"But give 'em credit. I had my stuff tonight and they still got the bat on it. Oh boy, have they got the best four lefty pinch hitters off the bench that a right-handed reliever is ever going to see. Lowenstein, Kelly, Crowley and that kid Graham. They're a tough inning by themselves."

As Gossage walked off the mound glowering after a final ground out in the eighth, he muttered to Coach Frank Robinson, "It's a wonder that last blankity-blank didn't fall in, too."

"Nobody's got any money in the bank in this thing, either way," Gossage said. It was a curious, almost Red Sox-like comment, considering that New York still is well ahead.

"We have to stay calm, stay poised," Jackson said, setting an example by sitting quietly in mid-locker room disecting the game. "I can't lose my edge, and I can't get on edge. Somebody has to set a tone of composure. That's what maybe the Red Sox couldn't do when we were chasing them in '78."

The Orioles, winners now of seven in a row and 11 of 12, don't need any pep talks. Jim Palmer gave them 7 2/3 unspectacular but gritty innings to pick up his 13th victory, even though he looked like a hard-luck loser after Ruppert Jones conked a homer in the seventh to break a 1-1 tie.

"Palmer gives us that veteran poise when he steps out there before 50,000 screaming maniacs," said Coach Ray Miller.

"He was in early jams that could have gotten us way behind, but he always wriggles out," Miller added. "One time I went to the mound just so he could scream at somebody for a minute and get the excess adrenaline out of his system so he'd stop overthrowing."

This night began and ended on radically different notes. At batting practice, Jackson put on a homer show, then, with a huge grin, yelled to the watching Orioles, "Get ready!"

Yet, ironically, Jackson struck out twice against Palmer, the second giving Palmer 2,000 for his career. And, the two fellows who drove in runs off Palmer -- Murcer and Jones -- were the half-steppers in the outfield who sabotaged Gossage.

By the ninth inning, the O's were in control as even little Lenn Sakata singled off Gossage, took second on a sacrifice and scored an insurance run on Singleton's single.

Then, 6-foot-7 Tim Stoddard closed the door with four outs of relief work for his 17th save.

"Big Foot's starting to look like (Don) Stanhouse," teased Mike Flanagan, since Stoddard brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth before getting the last out.

"I just wanted to give the other guys in the bullpen a chance to get in some throwing," Stoddard replied, grinning.

The Orioles could laugh. Murray had allowed them to with one pressure-piercing swing that changed the mood of this night.

And gave a large jolt to the Yankees.