Knuckleballs floated everywhere in Yankee Stadium last night while Joe Niekro was outpitching the Cleveland Indians' Tom Candiotti, 10-3.
The teams totaled 19 walks, three wild pitches, four passed balls, three errors and five unearned runs. Candiotti (1-2) walked eight and both of the Yankees he struck out reached base, one on a wild pitch, the other on a passed ball. All the Indians' runs were unearned, two because of Niekro's error.
Finally, Bobby Meacham's bases-loaded single off Jim Kern -- a nonknuckleballer -- drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the sixth inning and the Yankees were off to their sixth victory in a row.
"I didn't see many knucklers," Meacham said. "The count was 3-2 . . . and Rickey [Henderson] was on deck. Who would you rather pitch to?" Meacham had had only one RBI this season.
"Joe had a good knuckleball," said his catcher, Ron Hassey, who had two passed balls. "It was really working. It was the best knuckler I've seen in a long time."
"He caught a lot of good ones that I don't know how he caught," Niekro (2-0) said. He'd come in the dugout at the end of an inning and say, 'I'm trying.'
"He missed the first seven knucklers I threw; the last three warmups and the first four in the game."
"I beat myself when I didn't get it over," Candiotti said. "It was unbelievable watching the catchers out there. They were completely lost."
He had pitched a three-hit, 10-strikeout shutout over the Orioles last time out.
Willie Randolph of the Yankees went nothing for one, with three walks, ending his 15-game hitting streak.