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American League Roundup : Phil Niekro Gets Point Across to Yanks, 6-4

The New York Yankees didn’t have a place for 47-year-old Phil Niekro. One of the reasons they released the knuckleball specialist was to give rookie Bob Tewksbury, more than 20 years younger, a chance to pitch regularly.

The Cleveland Indians, needing all the help they can get, snapped up Niekro. He paid his first dividend Thursday night at Cleveland and showed Tewksbury a thing or two.

Niekro held the Yankees to two hits in seven innings, but after he left, Cleveland almost gave the game away. The Indians won, 6-4, as the Yankees scored four times in the ninth inning before Don Mattingly lined into a double play to end the suspense.

While the Indians were hammering Tewksbury for 5 runs and 10 hits in 6 innings, Niekro had his heavy-hitting former teammates tied in knots with his butterfly pitch. He departed after Bobby Meacham opened the eighth with a single.

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Niekro’s 301st major league victory had to be one of his most enjoyable. He joined the Indians because they said he would pitch every fifth day, and that’s what he wanted.

He insisted he has no ill-will toward the Yankees. “It was their opinion that I was over the hill,” he said. “They underestimated my drive.

“But this is one ball game. If I’d pitched a bad game they could have said that’s why they dumped me.”

Texas 7, Milwaukee 5--Bobby Witt is only 21, but he is already striking fear in the hearts of batters. They don’t know whether he will maim them or just strike them out.

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The Rangers’ hard-throwing rookie right-hander had a no-hitter going through five innings at Milwaukee in his second major league start. At the time, the score was tied, 2-2. He walked 8 and struck out 10 before being replaced. In 8 innings, the former Oklahoma and U. S. Olympic team star, has walked 14 batters.

The Rangers, with Pete O’Brien scoring the winning run on Ray Searage’s wild pitch with two out in the ninth, moved into first place in the West. They scored three runs in the ninth to come from behind on three walks, an infield out, a single and the sixth wild pitch of the game. Four of them were by Witt.

Boston 6, Kansas City 2--After hitting a long foul ball with the score tied, two out in the eighth and the bases loaded at Boston, Don Baylor straightened out the next pitch for a grand slam to end the Royals’ four-game winning streak.

Roger Clemens pitched a five-hitter to win his second game in a row. He struck out seven. It was another strong performance for the pitcher who had shoulder surgery last August.

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Baltimore 5-4, Toronto 3-7-- Cliff Johnson broke a 4-4 tie with a single in the eighth inning of the second game at Toronto, so the Orioles had to be satisfied with a split.

The good news for the Orioles was that the 1-2 punch of Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray finally delivered. Ripken hit a two-run homer in the opener to help Mike Flanagan win. Murray singled in the first inning of the second game to end an 0-for-17 slump and drive in his first run of the season. He hit a two-run homer in the eighth to get the Orioles even for a spell.

Jim Clancy, who gave up only four hits in seven innings, was deprived of the victory when Tom Henke served up Murray’s homer.

Detroit 10, Chicago 6--Mike Laga’s two-run single and Alan Trammell’s run-scoring double highlighted a five-run eighth inning at Chicago that sparked the Tigers.

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Jack Morris didn’t give up any home runs, but he allowed six runs in seven innings, becoming a winner because of the rally after he was through pitching.

Morris gave up six home runs in his first two starts.


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