Dustin Pedroia helps power Boston Red Sox past Atlanta Braves

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

BOSTON -- There's really no telling what Steven Wright's role with the Boston Red Sox would have been at the start of the season had it not been for an injury to Eduardo Rodriguez.

But given the chance to join the rotation, Wright has been the club's most consistent starter -- even more consistent than David Price, the $217 Million Man.


"This year, much like it was last year. Go pitch, see what happens," manager John Farrell said after his knuckleballer went seven strong innings, his fourth quality start in as many tries, in Wednesday night's 9-4 victory over the hapless Atlanta Braves.

"His (spring training) performance is probably going to drive the decision of where he ends up," Farrell said. "He was out of options so he was going to be with us at the start of the season, so ... things break his way and he has run with the opportunity."


Dustin Pedroia hit two homers, one a grand slam off the Pesky Pole in right field, and David Ortiz stroked three straight doubles to climb the all-time extra base hits and doubles ladder in Boston's fourth straight win -- the third in as many nights against the Braves in two locations.

Wright, who allowed one earned run (the other run off him came from his own throwing error), is a hard-luck 2-2, but his ERA is 1.37. Dating back to last season, he has eight straight starts allowing two earned runs or less, the longest current streak in the American League.

"His dependability, I guess in a word, is what continues to solidify itself," Farrell said. "We hand him an early lead and he makes it stand up through seven innings tonight."

The knuckler was dancing, and driving catcher Ryan Hanigan crazy. Hanigan had four passed balls Wednesday, three of them giving Erick Aybar first, second and third base. He has seven in the last two games, but Wright, who struck out eight on Wednesday, has won both games.

Asked after the game what makes his knuckler so effective, Wright just said, "I have to idea."


"He's throwing the ball great," said Pedroia, who hit his second and third homers of the season, the second a solo shot after the Braves botched a foul pop. "That thing's dancing everywhere. Hanny's doing a good job trying to keep it in front of him. I have a great view (from second base)."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team has lost eight straight to fall to 4-17, said, "I thought we had a pretty good approach early in the game against Wright. But I've never seen a knuckleball go sideways. Usually a knuckleball goes down, and it goes down hard. His knuckleball at times was almost like a cutter-knuckleball."

Talking about the second-inning slam, which helped KO Bud Norris (1-4), Farrell said, "I think he might have even been screaming Pesky Pole on his way around first base and lo and behold, he clips it."

Ortiz moved him past Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx and into 17th place on baseball's all-time extra base hit list (1,119). The first double moved him past Todd Helton and into 16th place on MLB's all-time doubles list and the three doubles gave him 595.


"I did? Good for me," Ortiz said on his movement up the lists. "That's what happens when you play for a long time ... man, I'm old."

Freddie Freeman ended the Braves' 15-game homerless stretch with a solo shot off reliever Tommy Layne -- Atlanta's fourth homer of the season and second since Opening Day. Freeman has two of them. Nick Markakis doubled home a run in the ninth.

Asked about the losing, Freeman said, "It's really hard to put into words. You lose the first nine, then win four, then lose eight in a row. It's a weird start to our season, it's the start we didn't want. ... It's not fun right now."

The Red Sox have scored 20 runs in the last two games against the Braves, Tuesday in Atlanta and Wednesday at Fenway Park.

NOTES: RF Nick Markakis had a double and has 10 of Atlanta's 33 extra-base hits. No other NL team had fewer than 48 extra-base hits through Tuesday. ... Markakis' 16 RBIs are 10 more than any teammate. ... The Elias Sports Bureau says the Red Sox's 210 strikeouts through 20 games were the most by any team since 1900. ... Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski, reacting on WEEI radio to rumors concerning manager John Farrell's job situation, said, "He has my support. He knows he has my support. I'm happy he's our manager." ... Atlanta RHP Jhoulys Chacin faces RHP Clay Buchholz in the finale of the four-game home and home set Thursday night before the Yankees visit Boston for the first time this season. ... RHP Carson Smith, who has yet to make his Red Sox debut because of a right forearm strain, will pitch at Double-A Portland this weekend and could be activated next week.


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