SEATTLE -- It's a safe bet that Steven Wright won't ever forget his first major league win. Chances are, the rest of the Red Sox will remember it for a long time, too.
After starter Ryan Dempster imploded with his worst start of the season - allowing seven runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings -- the Sox turned to their beleaguered bullpen.
Wright took the ball and kept pitching. In his second appearance in the big leagues, he didn't give it back until the Red Sox had a lead in the bottom of the 10th inning, their first lead since the second.
His 5 1/3 scoreless innings, during which he allowed just three hits, all singles, saved the bullpen and the day for the Sox in an 8-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners in extra innings, their third straight win.
"He was the story of the day,'' said John Farrell. "Compared to where he was to first time he was with us (in April, for one appearance), he threw many more strikes with much greater action and consistent action to his knuckleball. Given how well (the Mariners) swing the bat against fastballs, it was the right combination today.
"Today would have been his fifth day. He came to us completely rested and we needed every pitch he gave us. Just an outstanding job.''
"That's my goal every time -- to keep going until they tell me I'm done,'' said Wright.
Wright had a scoreless streak of 17 2/3 innings in Pawtucket prior to being called up Wednesday and merely carried that momentum with him to the mound.
"I think the biggest thing down there,'' said Wright, "was I was able to (start) throwing more strikes. When I first got sent down, I was falling behind a lot and as a result, I had to throw a lot more fastballs and curveballs.
But over the last few starts, I was able to be more consistent within the strike zone. For me, if I can throw quality knuckleballs in the strike zone, that gets them swinging and most of the time, that's going to be better results for me.''
After he allowed an inherited baserunner to score, Wright barely had any difficulty with the Seattle lineup. He got two double plays to erase two of the three hits off him, and otherwise, seemed to keep the Mariners off balance, buying time for the Red Sox to complete their comeback.
It helped, too, that Wright was throwing to Ryan Lavarnway, who's also spent time in Pawtucket and had caught Wright there on several occasions.
"I think that helped out a lot,'' said Wright. "Having Varny back there, I threw to him quite a bit in Pawtucket and he saw when I got a little antsy, he was able to calm me down. It was very comforting for me, coming back to the big leagues and having him back there to calm me down was great.''
Wright is one of just two full-time knuckleballers in the big leagues -- Toronto's R.A. Dickey is the other -- and the unfamiliarity with the pitch worked to Wright's advantage.
"It's good for us because it's an unconventional pitch,'' said Wright. "That's where the key is to throw strikes. If you throw strikes, they're going to swing and hopefully you get them to mishit it. But they're also big league hitters and they make the adjustments.''
Wright trited to read swings the hitters' balance in determining whether to add or subtract velocity on the signature pitch. He did it well enough that very few balls were hard-hit all afternoon.
"If I felt like they were on it,'' he explained, "maybe I'll speed it up or slow it down a little bit, just to kind of mess with them a little bit.''
Inning after inning, with no one else getting up in the bullpen until the Sox grabbed the lead in the top of the 10th.
"There was no guarantee that whoever we brought back in would be any (better),'' offered Farrell, "and the fact that he kept putting up zeroes, we rode it as long as we could.''