Wright back at it: Knuckleballer sharp in NY

Red Sox right-hander picks up win in first game after All-Star break

Wright back at it: Knuckleballer sharp in NY

NEW YORK -- Forgive Red Sox manager John Farrell if he wasn't all that broken up about Steven Wright not being given a chance to pitch in the All-Star Game.

The way Farrell saw it, the inactivity gave him the chance to put his most consistent starting pitcher right back on the mound to start the second half of the season. And once again, Wright demonstrated how he became an All-Star in the first place, pitching the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Yankees on Friday night.

You thought the Red Sox might be a little rusty coming out of the break? That was true for the offense over the first four innings. But Wright set a tremendous tone early, retiring the first 14 batters he faced.

The bid for the second perfect game in Red Sox history ended when Wright couldn't cleanly field a slow roller by Alex Rodriguez with two outs in the fifth.

"I thought if I maybe barehanded it, I'd be able to make a play," Wright said. "I didn't know. It was kind of do or die."

A-Rod gets Yanks' first hit

Originally, Farrell was going to pitch Eduardo Rodriguez in his return from Triple-A on Friday, but going to Wright was far more comforting.

"Steven came out, was throwing a lot of strikes," said Farrell. "There was quite a bit of violence to his knuckleball. What's so important to that, is that you come off of a stretch of days where you've been inactive, and the ability to keep a game under control, put up zeros until we can get an opportunity to score some runs, that's invaluable."

Wright gave up three hits and three runs over six innings. He is now 11-5 with a 2.78 ERA and is tied with ace David Price for the staff lead in quality starts with 13.

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Sure, Wright wanted to pitch for the American League in San Diego. And considering he had the best ERA in the league at the break, he certainly earned the opportunity. But Wright understood the situation because AL manager Ned Yost explained it to him.

"It's definitely a bummer," said Wright. "You want to go out there and pitch. He told me right away when I got out there, I was going to be the emergency guy because they didn't want to end in a tie. I was the only guy that was capable of going multiple innings. I was fine. You've got to respect that.

"Everybody that goes to the All-Star Game wants to pitch. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to pitch."

Farrell helped erase the sting for Wright by asking him on Thursday to start a day earlier than the club had originally planned.

"I was ready," said Wright. "It wasn't like I wasn't ready. I threw a little bit in San Diego off the mound and I threw yesterday. So, yeah, I felt like it wasn't something that was out of the blue."

After going into a mini-slump prior to the break, Wright was able to work out the kinks with a man everyone around the Red Sox is familiar with.

"I worked a lot with Tim Wakefield before the break on trying to simplify and get my timing back and my rhythm, and I felt like today we were able to do that," said Wright.

Wright, who loves to dish out credit more than take it, also had plenty of nice things to say about catcher Ryan Hanigan. It was Hanigan who helped stake Wright to a 1-0 lead by going deep in the third.

Ross catches Hanigan's home run

"Hanigan helped me out a lot to make sure I stayed in that rhythm," said Wright. "A couple of them I kind of overthrew, and he pointed it out right away and helped me get back in the zone."

After spending much of the first half in that zone, Wright will try to stay in it for the stretch run.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.