Midway through the 2005 season, Chase Wright was pitching for the New York Yankees' single-A Charleston, S.C., club when his starts began to go to other pitchers.

He knew why. The end of the first half was approaching. A playoff spot was hanging in the balance and he had been pitching poorly.

Wright feared he was going to be released.

Whenever Wright felt himself getting a little down last week, he simply thought back to 2005 and quickly realized how far he had come.

Two weeks ago, Wright was pitching for the double-A Trenton Thunder, and many baseball fans didn't know who he was. He was still a relative unknown even after being unexpectedly summoned to the majors and beating Cleveland on April 17.

But last Sunday night, over a span of 10 harrowing pitches, everyone who follows the game learned who Wright was. He was the guy who gave up four consecutive home runs in one inning to the Boston Red Sox.

Plenty of pitchers have given up four homers in a game. Some have given up five or six.

But only one pitcher - Paul Foytack of the 1963 Angels - had ever given up four to consecutive hitters in one inning. Wright, a 24-year-old lefty from small-town Iowa Park, Texas, became the second - and he did it on national television.

Two days later, Wright was back in Trenton with one heck of a story to tell.

And he managed to smile while telling it.

"I've watched the video," he said. "I've seen myself cussing. The weird thing is, I actually felt better in Boston than I did in my first start. It just came down to not making pitches and working behind in the count. Up there, you work behind in the count and they'll make you pay."

The Yankees were up, 3-0, when Wright came out for the third inning. He got the first two outs, then allowed solo homers to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek.

"The one Drew hit still eats me up," Wright said. "I had him set up pretty good with a 1 and 2 count. I threw him a breaking ball and didn't get it down enough. If I get it down a tick or two, I would have been successful. After his home run, they just caught fire.

"You always hear the higher up you go, the fewer mistakes you can make. That's true. I tip my hat to them."

In 1963, Foytack was removed after allowing his fourth straight home run. Yankees manager Joe Torre let Wright get the third out of the inning - a strikeout of Wily Mo Peña - before removing him.

"I was happy I struck the last guy out and didn't give in," Wright said.

Wright didn't give in two years ago when he feared he'd be released. In the second half of 2005, he adopted a now-or-never attitude and started racking up wins. Last season, he was the Florida State League pitcher of the year after going 12-3 with 1.88 ERA in 37 games at Tampa.

Opening the season at Trenton, Wright hoped to pitch himself into consideration for a big-league job later in the season. When the injuries mounted in New York, his chance came a lot earlier than he expected.

Wright is proud of his win over Cleveland and will cherish it forever. He has also managed to keep his difficult night in Boston in perspective. He allowed four runs in three innings. Plenty of pitchers do that.

"I've been roughed up a lot worse," he said. "I remember giving up eight runs in two innings in low A ball. I did that more than once. This was three innings, four runs. It just so happened that they all came in a row.

"This was actually a good learning experience, something I can build on. I struggled my first three years in the minors and that helped me become who I am. I always took positives from it. I didn't dwell on the negatives."

Home runs happen. Always have, always will. Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Don Sutton allowed five homers in a game. Denny McLain, Bert Blyleven, Mike Mussina, Pat Hentgen and Mark Langston, all pretty fair pitchers, allowed five in a game. Jamie Moyer, who has 218 career wins, gave up five homers in a start against the Red Sox while pitching for Seattle last season

"Keep pitching," is Moyer's advice to Wright. "That was a tough situation he was in. Huge rivalry. Fenway Park. But his organization judged him ready for it. That means something. Now go do what got you there in the first place.

"This doesn't have to hurt his career. Oh, sure, he could pitch a no-hitter or win 20 and he'll still be known as the guy who gave up four homers in a row, but that's just the way things work. Build off it. It's just four solo homers."

The morning after giving up four consecutive homers, Wright heard the only other man to do it, Foytack, doing an interview on ESPN.

Foytack, 76, said he intended to send Wright a letter, telling him to keep his head up.

Wright is already doing that, but he'd like to read the letter nonetheless.

There's one other thing he'd like to do.

"Get back up there and face the Red Sox again," he said.

Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury
at 215-854-4983