LOS ANGELES -- With more than 20 friends and family in the stands, Red Sox knuckleballer and Southern California native Steven Wright tossed his first career shutout, allowing three hits and tying a career high with nine strikeouts in a 9-0 win over the Dodgers on Friday at Dodger Stadium.
"Watching Dodgers games is what I did growing up. To have the opportunity to pitch here was fun and the first shutout is icing on the cake," said Wright.
The knuckleballer mystified the Dodgers for his fourth career complete game. After allowing a double to Justin Turner in the first inning, Wright retired 19 of the next 20 batters before allowing a single to Yasmani Grandal in the eighth.
Knowing how successful the Dodgers lineup is in hitting the fastball, Wright said he did his best to mix it in only to keep them honest.
"I didn't want to use the fastball out of necessity. I've had to do that a few times this season, but not tonight," Wright said. "If they stay aggressive, my fastball plays a little higher because they are geared up for the knuckleball. That was the case tonight."
The Dodgers were impressed by Wright's ability to make the knuckleball dance throughout the strike zone.
"Obviously the knuckleball is not a pitch you get to see every day. When you make it move and you throw strikes and you make guys swing the bat, you're going to get a lot of soft contact and a lot of swings and misses," Grandal said. "Seemed like right at the point of contact, the ball would just drop. This is the first time I had faced a knuckleball ever. It was pretty fun to hit against."
Wright tossed 119 pitches, 78 for strikes. The pitch count marked the second-most of his career. Red Sox manager John Farrell felt like Wright's feel for the pitch was his best of the season.
"If you get the opportunity to go out there and throw nine, it is awesome. It is an honor," Wright said. "Being over 100 pitches, it is awesome that John let me go out there. To throw a complete game is awesome. It is so hard to do at this level."
Farrell thought Wright's command got better as the game went on, especially in the seventh inning when the knuckleballer struck out Turner and Josh Reddick.
"He was in complete control," Farrell said. "I thought the two really big pitches were the 3-2 knuckleballs to the middle-of-the-order guys in the seventh for two strikeouts. He didn't go away from it even when behind."
It was an even sweeter win after Wright came away in his last start against the Angels in Anaheim allowing three runs on a season-high 10 hits over five innings for the no-decision.
"I'm going to go out there and they are going to be there. My mom, dad, sister, brother and my wife are here," Wright said. "When it goes well, it makes it more fun to go out and talk to them."