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Homers aside, Wright feels he's almost right

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Steven Wright's knuckleball was finally dancing again on Saturday, with that trademark "violence" you heard the Red Sox talk about so much last season.

But there were two flat ones that turned his day into a 7-4 loss to the Cubs instead of the resurgent victory he was looking for.

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BOSTON -- Steven Wright's knuckleball was finally dancing again on Saturday, with that trademark "violence" you heard the Red Sox talk about so much last season.

But there were two flat ones that turned his day into a 7-4 loss to the Cubs instead of the resurgent victory he was looking for.

View Full Game Coverage

In particular, the one Wright agonized over was a slow, slow knuckler that registered in at 61.9 mph, and Anthony Rizzo punished it for a two-run homer in the fourth inning.

Video: CHC@BOS: Rizzo mashes two-run home run to right

That swing turned Boston's 3-0 lead into a tight 3-2 contest. The momentum of the game went Chicago's way from there.

"I think with the exception of the 0-2 slow knuckleball that Steven threw to Rizzo, this was his best knuckleball he's had to date [this season]," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

It wasn't the lack of speed on the pitch to Rizzo that cost Wright. It was the mislocation of the offering.

"The one pitch I wish I could get back was that 0-2 pitch to Rizzo," said Wright. "I was trying to get it a little more in front of the plate, and it stayed up a little bit and he made me pay."

Miguel Montero also made Wright pay with a game-tying shot to open the seventh. That knuckler just stayed too high in the zone. The old adage for a hitter for getting the best of a knuckleball pitcher is that if it's low, let it go, and if it's high, let it fly.

Video: CHC@BOS: Montero launches a game-tying solo home run

Montero did his job.

"That last inning, Montero hit one of the very few that actually stayed up. He put a good swing on it," said Wright. "Plus the ball was jumping out there to right. Overall, compared to where I was the last couple of games, I felt a lot better."

Of Wright's five starts this season, there have been two complete clunkers -- one in which he didn't make it out of the second inning and the other his previous outing in Baltimore, when he was pounded for nine hits and four runs over 3 2/3 innings. Overall, Wright is 1-3 with an 8.25 ERA.

Against the Cubs, Wright gave up seven hits and five runs, walking one and striking out four. Though the overall line was less than stellar, Wright felt like the start is one he can build on. It has been an ongoing battle for the right-hander to regain his mechanics after a bout with shoulder bursitis that ended his 2016 season early.

Video: CHC@BOS: Farrell on missed opportunities in 7-4 loss

"I worked a lot with [assistant pitching coach Brian] Bannister on my arm angle, trying to get back to where I was before the injury. I was just staying aggressive," said Wright. "I talked a lot with Rick [Porcello] and [Chris] Sale and those guys. When things aren't going good, sometimes it's better to be a little bit more aggressive and do everything you can to attack the zone and stay aggressive with it.

"I took that into today, and it worked out. I've still got some work to do. I'm definitely not where I want to be. But compared to where I've been, it's on the right track."

The Cubs were glad to face Wright before he recaptures the form that made him an All-Star last season.

"I said, 'Tip my hat to everyone who hit [Steven Wright] today,'" said Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber. "It's some funky stuff. I guess that's why it's so effective, because it's so unpredictable."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Steven Wright