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8/17/2014 8:02 P.M. ET

Wright goes four innings in season debut

BOSTON -- The Red Sox recalled knuckleballer Steven Wright from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday to give their bullpen some length. Boston designated Corey Brown for assignment in a corresponding move.

Wright threw four innings of relief in his 2014 debut on Sunday, allowing four hits and one run while fanning four. He threw 75 percent of his pitches for strikes in the game's final four innings --- a game in which Joe Kelly was chased after just four frames. The Astros led by six after the fourth and won, 8-1.

"He came in, gave us innings. He kept the game in check despite the one run allowed," said manager John Farrell, who intends to use Wright in long relief. "He provides such a contrast to some of the power arms that he might follow, so it is a good fit. He threw strikes."

While Wright's knuckler used to sit in the high 70s, it's now usually in the mid 70s. Occasionally, like he did Sunday, he'll drop a 65-mph knuckleball in.

Wright said the biggest adjustments he made this season were slowing down his knuckleball, pitching to contact and not trying to overthrow. His walk rate of 5.7 percent with Pawtucket in 2014 is considerably better than his career mark of 15.3 and his strikeout rate is on par with his lifetime average.

"My whole philosophy this year is contact," Wright said. "Last year, I got caught up too much in trying to get them to swing and miss, trying to overthrow. The knuckleball was so good, but it was very inconsistent with my starting point, which made it harder to keep in the strike zone."

Entering Sunday, Burke Badenhop had pitched in four of the team's last five games. Koji Uehara threw back-to-back days, as well. After Rubby De La Rosa lasted just four innings on Saturday night, Farrell wanted Wright in the 'pen Sunday.

Farrell said before the game that he'd prefer to use Wright at the start of an inning as opposed to putting him in the game with runners on. He was able to do that when Kelly struggled and Craig Breslow threw a perfect fifth.

The 29-year-old Wright made all four of his previous Major League appearances in 2013, allowing eight runs over 13 1/3 innings. Wright's only other stint with the Red Sox this season came on Aug. 3, when he was with the team for just a day, but didn't pitch.

Wright has made 13 starts for Pawtucket this season, posting a 2.76 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and .214 batting average against. Of his 229 career Minor League appearances, 146 have been starts.

Brown, 28, has played in 39 games during his four-year big league career, including three with the Red Sox this season. He entered Saturday's game in the eighth as a pinch-runner, was a defensive substitute in the ninth on Thursday and struck out as a pinch-hitter Wednesday in Cincinnati.

Brown hit .226/.294/.452 with 16 home runs and 39 RBIs in 83 games with Pawtucket this season. The Red Sox purchased his contract from Pawtucket on Aug. 5.

Pedroia sent home with flu-like symptoms

BOSTON --- The Red Sox held second baseman Dustin Pedroia out of the lineup Sunday due to flu-like symptoms, manager John Farrell said.

Pedroia, celebrating his 31st birthday Sunday, left Fenway Park several hours before Boston's game against the Astros. Brock Holt played second in his absence.

"He's got some flu-like symptoms going on. Felt it during the game [Saturday night], overnight," Farrell said. "It worsened to the point where he can't go today, at all.

"He's been seen by our doctors, antibiotics administered. So hopefully this is a short-lived situation."

Pedroia exited Friday night's game in the ninth inning with discomfort in his right foot. He fouled a ball off his foot in the third, but scans came back negative and he was in the lineup Saturday.

Pedroia has played in all but four games this season, including Sunday's. He's batting .284/.345/.379, and according to Fangraphs, leads the Red Sox in wins above replacement with 3.7.

Worth noting

• Mike Napoli didn't start Sunday. Kelly Johnson played first and batted fifth.

"He's responded well to a day off inside a five-, six-day stretch," Farrell said of Napoli. "And that's part of the rotation here today."

• Allen Craig will start a rehab assignment Monday, and when he returns from a sprained left foot, he'll likely play right field. That could mean Daniel Nava -- hitting .333/.385/.444 in August and .331/.399/.393 since being recalled in early June --- won't see as much time. But Farrell said he'll still find a way to get Nava, a switch-hitter who fares well against righties from the left side, on the field.

"For as well as he's swinging the bat, we're going to find a way to get him in the lineup," Farrell said. "Much like we did with Brock Holt earlier, there will be a way we can accommodate all this."

Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.