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Wright delivers scoreless relief to set up comeback

Knuckleballer sets table for big ninth inning after getting called up Thursday morning

BOSTON -- Minutes after the game, Fenway Park was still electric.

Chanting, whistling and the slaps of high-fives flooded the jubilant concourse as fans paraded out onto the streets.

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They praised the likes of Daniel Nava, the man who capped the six-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth with his game-winning single. They cheered Jonny Gomes, who, when the game was seemingly over, violently collided into the Green Monster to make a crucial catch in the eighth and singled to tie the contest in the ninth.

But likely forgotten in all of the excitement of the Red Sox's league-leading 11th walkoff win of the season is Steven Wright.

It was Wright, freshly called up from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier on Thursday, who relieved a struggling Ryan Dempster in the seventh inning with Boston trailing Seattle, 7-1.

The knuckleballer made sure the deficit stayed where it was, pitching three scoreless innings and setting the table for the Red Sox offense to mount their largest comeback of the season.

And while most will remember Nava's walk-off knock or Gomes' heroics, the Red Sox maintain they won't forget the man who made it possible.

"Not in this clubhouse," said Nava. "We're well aware of what he did. It's not easy to come in a situation where the game's kind of out of whack for the time being. To hang in there and put up some big zeros, we don't forget about it."

Wright, 28, wouldn't have been in Boston if the bullpen wasn't drained so heavily after Wednesday's 15-inning affair with the Mariners.

By the 10th inning of that game -- an eventual 5-4 Red Sox win -- Wright had fallen asleep, the game still flashing on his TV.

By 10:30 a.m. the next morning, Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina was on the phone telling him he needed to make the approximately 50-mile drive north to Boston.

"I was excited you know because this is where you want to be," said Wright, who made the drive with his wife and baby daughter.

It was his third time in the big leagues this season and the last two appearances have some eerie similarities.

During a July 11 game in Seattle, Dempster -- just like he did Thursday -- struggled as the starter and gave up seven runs to the Mariners. Wright came on in relief, pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings and Boston won by the same score, 8-7. Of course, Nava was the hero, hitting the go-ahead single in the 10th inning.

Dempster smiled when asked about the similarities between the two games.

"That seems to be the recipe," he said.

After the game, Wright, with bags of ice bandaged to his right arm, was startled by the crowd of reporters that approached him, microphones and recorders in hand. Chances are his stay in the big leagues won't be a long one, but he said it was exciting contributing to the win Thursday.

"Like a little kid again on the edge of your seat," he said of his demeanor while watching the comeback. "It was just fun and entertaining and just awesome.

"I think it just proves you can never take an inning off. I mean because you come in down 7-1 you think that it's a mop-up role. You're just kind of going through the motions but it just shows you, you can never take a pitch off because you never know what's going to happen until that 27th out is made."

Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Michael Periatt.

Boston Red Sox, Steven Wright