SEATTLE — Recent Boston Red Sox call-up Steven Wright came out of the visiting bullpen on Thursday afternoon bearing a gift for his catcher in the form of a larger glove that he carries into each of his outings.
The 28-year-old right-hander figures it is the least he could do as a converted knuckleballer. And the Red Sox paid him back with a gift of his own: his first career victory.
Wright pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before Boston’s Daniel Nava drove in the tiebreaking run with a two-out single in the top of the 10th inning, extending the Red Sox’s winning streak to three games with an 8-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
“Our bullpen was taxed a little bit, and for Wrighty to come on and give that many innings was huge,” said Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who used Wright’s custom glove and then started the 10th-inning rally with a walk.
Wright, who was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday and was still being considered as Sunday’s starter, made a somewhat unexpected appearance out of the bullpen in relief of struggling Ryan Dempster and made the most of his opportunity.
“It’s exciting,” Wright said. “It was fun to watch how those guys were able to score runs and keep fighting.”
The Red Sox (57-37) fell into a 5-1 hole in the third inning and trailed 7-4 in the fourth when Wright came to the rescue.
The score was tied 7-7 midway through the fifth when two teams that ended up scoring 64 runs in the four-game series finally stopped hitting.
After Lavarnway walked to start the 10th, pinch-runner Jackie Bradley Jr. moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and Seattle reliever Tom Wilhelmsen intentionally walked red-hot Boston hitter Jacoby Ellsbury to get to Nava.
The switch-hitting Nava singled through a huge gap up the middle, scoring Bradley from second with the eventual winning run.
“I was just trying to get on top of something,” Nava said, adding that the intentional walk made him want to disprove the theory that “I’m the guy they just think they’re going to get out without a fight. If anything, you just want to have a good at-bat.”
For the first five innings, both offenses continued to dominate. Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez lasted 4 2/3 innings in his 2013 debut, giving up six hits and seven runs while walking four. Dempster didn’t make it out of the fourth, giving up seven runs (four earned) and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Ellsbury welcomed Ramirez back with a home run on the third pitch of the game, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
Seattle’s Kyle Seager tied the score with a leadoff homer in the second.
Then the Mariners took advantage of a Boston error to score three more runs on the way to a 4-1 lead through two innings. Red Sox third baseman Brock Holt couldn’t corral a two-out ground ball and back-to-back hits from Brad Miller and Endy Chavez brought in three unearned runs for the Mariners.
Seattle put together another two-out rally in the third when they took advantage of a walk and hit-by-pitch before Michael Saunders hit an RBI single for a 5-1 lead. But Boston got three runs back with consecutive two-out singles in the top of the fourth to pull within 5-4.
The Mariners finally chased Dempster from the game during a two-run fourth that gave them a 7-4 lead.
Boston responded with three runs to chase Ramirez from the game in the top of the fifth while tying the score 7-7.
Wright (1-0) came on in relief of Dempster kept the score tied through the ninth inning.
Boston reliever Koji Uehara pitched a perfect bottom of the 10th to pick up his seventh save.
It wasn’t a great outing for either starter.
“He made it a lot more difficult for himself — and for us in general,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Ramirez.
The pitcher who ended up going to longest was Wright, a 28-year-old starter-turned-reliever who didn’t even know his role until the phone rang in the third inning.
“The fact that he kept putting up zeroes,” Boston manager John Farrell said, “we rode him as long as we could.”
The Red Sox were glad to reward Wright (1-0) with a victory. After he came out of the bullpen bearing his own present, it was the least they could do.
“I put on my own glove after the game and it felt like I was wearing an oven mitt,” Lavarnway said.
Boston’s David Ortiz, who set the career record for hits by a designated hitter Wednesday night (1,690), had a chance to be the hero in the top of the ninth and came within a few feet of doing it. But his long fly ball to deep center field was caught on the warning track by Seattle’s Dustin Ackley, resulting in the second out of the inning.
NOTES: Mariners 2B Nick Franklin (knee) was held out of Thursday’s game. SS Brendan Ryan replaced him and Miller moved from shortstop to second base. … To make room for Ramirez, the Mariners optioned RHP Carter Capps to Triple-A Tacoma. Capps was 2-2 with a 6.37 ERA in 33 appearances this season but had a 17.18 ERA in seven games since June 16. … Boston’s Sunday starter is still listed as TBA, but LHP Drake Britton of Triple-A Pawtucket looks more and more like the pick after recent call-ups Wright and Brandon Workman were used out of the bullpen on successive days. Britton made his first Triple-A start on Tuesday after going 7-6 with a 3.51 ERA at Double-A. … Seager’s second-inning homer gave the Mariners at least one home run in 19 consecutive games, matching the club record. The last time Seattle hit home runs in 19 consecutive games was in September 1999. … Chavez came out of the game in the fourth inning, a few minutes after beating out a bunt, because of right groin tightness.
INDIANS 4, BLUE JAYS 2: As debuts go, they don’t get much better than this. Cleveland’s Danny Salazar gave up one run on two hits in six innings to get the win, as the Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 Thursday in his first MLB appearance.
Salazar, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus to make a spot start, was very impressive in his debut. The 23-year-old right-hander held the Blue Jays hitless and scoreless for the first five innings.
Salazar gave up a run in the sixth inning. He was charged with one run on two hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk. The seven strikeouts are the most by an Indians pitcher in his major league debut since Luis Tiant struck out 11 against the Yankees on July 19, 1964.
The Indians gave their rookie a 1-0 in the first inning when Asdrubal Cabrera belted a two-out solo home run off R.A. Dickey. In his career against Dickey, Cabrera is 3-for-6 with two home runs and four RBI.
Salazar struck out five of the first eight batters he faced in the game, including striking out the side in the second inning. Toronto’s only base runner in the first five innings was a Rajai Davis, who drew a walk leading off the third inning.
The Blue Jays finally reached Salazar for a hit and a run in the sixth inning. Josh Thole led off the inning with a clean single to left field. Thole went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Munenori Kawasaki, and he scored on a two-out double by Jose Bautista, which tied the score at 1-1.
Dickey held the Indians scoreless on two hits from the second through the fifth inning, but in the sixth Cleveland scored two runs on just one hit. Michael Brantley got hit by Dickey’s first pitch of the inning, and Ryan Raburn followed with a walk.
After Carlos Santana struck out, Mark Reynolds walked, loading the bases. Lonnie Chisenhall drove in a run with a bloop single to left, and when left fielder Davis threw wildly to the plate Raburn scored on the error, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Dickey pitched six innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits, with seven strikeouts. The loss drops his record to 8-10.
Cleveland added a run in the eighth inning on an RBI triple by Santana, and the Blue Jays scored a run in the ninth on an RBI single by Colby Rasmus off Chris Perez, who picked up his 11th save.
Notes: Salazar is the ninth different pitcher to start a game for the Indians this season. … Indians infielder Mark Reynolds was 0-for-3 as his struggles at the plate continue. Reynolds is hitting .069 (2 of 26) in the month of July. … Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie is hitting .286 (8 of 28) in the first nine games of his minor league rehab assignment with Class AAA Buffalo. … First baseman Adam Lind has 128 homers as a Blue Jay, three shy of Ernie Whitt for eighth place on the team’s all-time list.