CHICAGO - In his previous start, Jaret Wright showed how to pitch with smoke and mirrors. Friday night, Wright pitched with his curve revived and his confidence restored.
On a team that is counting on its starters to, in the words of Horacio Ramirez, "step it up a little more," Wright took giant strides in silencing his doubters, pitching seven shutout innings in the Braves' 6-4 win over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
The win cut the margin between the Braves and the division-leading Marlins to 3 games and returned them to .500 (30-30).
Wright, who lasted just five innings in the Braves' 6-4 win over the Phillies in his last start, finished with a season-high eight strikeouts and two walks.
The 28-year-old right-hander was the beneficiary of Eli Marrero's offensive outburst while improving on a remarkable record: He is 4-2 with a 1.74 earned run average at night this season, 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA in day games.
Wright gave up just two singles to the American League's top offense and was at his best when the White Sox threatened.
He was also abetted by terrific defensive plays by shortstop Rafael Furcal, who was knocked down by Paul Konerko's smash in the second, third baseman Mark DeRosa, who stopped Konerko's grounder in the fourth, and second baseman Nick Green, who turned a double play on Juan Uribe's roller in the sixth.
Closer John Smoltz surrendered four runs on four hits in the ninth, including Jose Valentin's three-run home run.
It took six innings for the Braves to knock out White Sox starter Scott Schoeneweis.
Atlanta's first four hitters were a collective 2-for-18. The next five - Johnny Estrada, Julio Franco, Andruw Jones, Marrero, and DeRosa - were a combined 8-for-18 and knocked in all six runs.
Reach Bill Zack at firstname.lastname@example.org.