Kid Glove Treatment Whips Orioles

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter hit a controversial game-tying home run in the eighth inning, and Bernie Williams's towering homer in the 11th gave the New York Yankees a 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in the opening game of their American League Championship Series.

Jeter's homer was swatted by a young fan in the stands before Baltimore right fielder Tony Tarasco could catch it.

"I was camped under the ball," said Tarasco. "It was a routine fly ball."

He added: "To me it was a magic trick, because the ball just disappeared out of thin air."

Twelve-year-old Jeff Maier reached out his glove and deflected Jeter's fly ball back into the stands as Tarasco, just inserted for defensive purposes in the top of the inning, waited for it.

Tarasco immediately complained it should have been fan interference but right-field umpire and crew chief Rich Garcia's home run call stood despite a lengthy argument in right field, as fans threw down objects and pieces of paper.

"I feel bad for the Baltimore fans but as a Yankee fan I feel pretty good," said Maier.

After the game, Garcia said he never saw the fan touch the ball and thought the ball was out of the ballpark.

"My right fielder was under the ball, ready to make the catch," said Baltimore manager Davey Johnson.

"I don't hit too many home runs, and I guess most of them just get over the wall," said Jeter. "I was lucky."

But there was nothing controversial about the Williams blast. Leading off the 11th, the quiet star center fielder belted a 1-1 slider from Baltimore closer Randy Myers into the second deck in left field.

Mariano Rivera was the winner, pitching two scoreless innings.

Baltimore starter Scott Erickson allowed three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, outpitching Cy Young favorite Andy Pettitte, who allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings.

The Yankees took advantage of Oriole fielding blunders to score their first two runs.

In the first inning, B.J. Surhoff lost Tim Raines's easy pop fly to left, giving him a double and allowing him to score later on a Williams ground-out.

A Cal Ripken double and an Eddie Murray ground-out tied the game at 1-1 for Baltimore in the second. But in the bottom of the inning, the normally slick-fielding second baseman Roberto Alomar -- booed at every turn for his spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck -- had an error on a grounder from Paul O'Neill.

That put men on first and second with none out. Alomar made a nifty backhand flip to start a probable double play on a Mariano Duncan grounder, but Ripken's throw to first drew Rafael Palmeiro off the bag, and Baltimore got only one out, leaving men on first and third.

Jim Leyritz's grounder scored Cecil Fielder, who had led off the inning with a walk.

Brady Anderson and Rafael Palmeiro homered to lead off the third and fourth innings to put Baltimore up 3-2.

The homers were only the second and third this season Pettitte had yielded to left-handers, and were the first since April 14.

Palmeiro scored three times and had three hits and two walks in a perfect night at the plate for Baltimore, which added another run in the sixth on Surhoff's sacrifice fly scoring Palmeiro.

New York got another gift and cut the lead to 4-3 in the seventh when pinch-hitter Darryl Strawberry walked with the bases loaded, the third free pass of the inning.

The only hit in the inning came when Bonilla leaped to catch Williams's fly ball at the right-field wall, but lost it as he came down into the wall, giving Williams a double.

Then in the eighth came the game-tying homer off Armando Benitez by Jeter, who went 4-for-5 for the Yankees.