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Wright to get ball on Monday10/11/2004 1:08 AM ET
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Another chance is all Jaret Wright wanted.
Upset over a disappointing Game 1 start last Wednesday, Wright gets his wish on Monday at Turner Field.
After rallying to upend the Astros, 6-5, on Sunday afternoon, the Braves forced a decisive Game 5 in their Division Series.
Clearing one elimination hurdle on Sunday, the Braves are hopeful that Wright reverses his struggles from the other day. In Game 1, the right-hander gave up six runs, including three homers, over 4 1/3 innings in the Astros' 9-3 victory.
"I definitely wanted another shot," Wright said. "In that game I threw in Atlanta, I made a couple of mistakes, and they hit 'em out. I'm looking to improve on that, and I'm going to be ready."
All season, Wright allowed 11 homers, so being taken deep three times in less than five innings stung. Wright is hungry to advance the Braves to the National League Championship Series.
Taking the ball for a decisive game is nothing new for the right-hander. In 1997, when he was a rookie with the Indians, Wright drew a Game 7 start against the Marlins in Game 7 of the World Series at Pro Player Stadium. He was in line to win that game, but was lifted late and Florida rallied to victory in extra innings.
Back then, Wright was an unpolished hard-throwing youngster with tremendous promise. But his career has been anything but smooth since then. Wright has had to battle back from shoulder injuries and surgeries to resurrect his career.
Wright went from being a fifth starter to the Braves' ace, compiling a 15-8 record with a 3.28 ERA.
"We chose him No. 1 because he's the hottest pitcher," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He had a sensational year."
Wright goes against Houston's 20-game winner, Roy Oswalt.
On Sunday, the Braves cleared one major hurdle by winning a game in which Roger Clemens started. While Clemens was effective in five innings, giving up two runs on six hits in five innings, the legendary right-hander wasn't involved in the decision.
Wright has been to the Braves what Clemens is to the Astros.
"He's a horse, like Clemens," Cox said. "He's a big horse and you can ride him."
As thrilling as it was for Wright to pitch in the 1997 World Series, he says this postseason run is more enjoyable because of all he's been through.
"For me, now is a lot more special," Wright said. "Getting the chance to go out there for a deciding game. After I've been through what I've been through, it took a lot of work to get back here. We're playing for it all tomorrow. We're playing for the whole ball of wax."
Wright is one of three ailing Braves starters. He's playing through a twisted right ankle and sore left shin brought about by taking comeback liners off both legs in his last two starts.
He joins left-hander Mike Hampton, who is playing with torn cartilage in his left knee. John Thomson, who aggravated a left oblique muscle on Saturday, is out for the remainder of the postseason.
While not 100 percent, Wright insists he is healthy enough.
The Braves are desperately looking for their starters to pick it up. In the four games of the Division Series, Atlanta's starters are 0-1, giving up 13 runs in 14 innings, an 8.36 ERA.
After the Astros took a 5-2 lead in the second inning on Sunday, the prospect of a Game 5 being played looked bleak, especially with Clemens settling in.
But the Braves tied the game on Adam LaRoche's three-run homer off Chad Qualls in the sixth inning and J.D. Drew's tie-breaking RBI single in the ninth.
"J.D. came up big and LaRoche came up huge," Wright said. "We weren't supposed to be in this."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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