June 29, 2011 in Sports

McCann keys Atlanta’s rally past Mariners 5-4

Tim Booth Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – Brian McCann tormented Seattle pitching again with a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning, part of a four-hit night by the Atlanta catcher, and the Braves rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Mariners 5-4 on Tuesday night.

The Braves took advantage of late control problems by starter Michael Pineda (7-5) and the Mariners’ inability to come through with a clutch hit early against Tommy Hanson. Seattle left the bases loaded in the second inning, and runners on second and third in the fourth. It was limited to one run both times.

Hanson (9-4) settled down and gave his offense time to rally. Dan Uggla hit his 12th homer in the fifth inning, and the Braves added an unearned run in the sixth before scoring three times in the seventh.

Jordan Schafer had an RBI single in front of McCann’s sixth hit of the series.

Since May 28, McCann is hitting .391 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs. He has more than half of Atlanta’s 13 hits in the first two games of this series.

With Hanson’s early shakiness, it was a surprise he was still around in the sixth. His first pitch coming off a stint on the disabled list – a get-it-over-fastball – was hit into the right-field seats by Ichiro Suzuki. That shot snapped a 99-game homerless streak for the Mariners’ leadoff hitter.

It was Ichiro’s 33rd leadoff homer, tying him with Paul Molitor for ninth on baseball’s career list. Ichiro hadn’t homered in 414 at-bats, dating to Sept. 11, 2010.

Seattle later got contributions from Jack Cust, making his first start in two weeks. Cust hit an RBI double in the second and added a solo homer in the fourth. But Seattle failed to break the game open.

The Mariners had bases loaded and one out in the second, but Brendan Ryan struck out looking and Justin Smoak popped out to right. In the fourth, Ryan and Ichiro were on second and third with two outs, but Adam Kennedy struck out to end the threat.

Hanson struck out eight in his first start since June 12 against Houston. He walked three, but retired his final seven batters.

Seattle rookie Dustin Ackley had an RBI single in the seventh inning off George Sherrill and has reached base safely in all 11 games since he was called up from the minor leagues. Ackley’s hit might have tied the game if McCann hadn’t thrown out Kennedy on the back end of a double steal during the previous at-bat when Smoak was at the plate. Ichiro and Kennedy took off on a 3-0 pitch, and McCann’s perfect throw to second nabbed Kennedy.

Cust put a scare into the Braves when he jumped on Jonny Venters’ fastball in the eighth but Jason Heyward tracked down the liner as he crashed into the wall in right. Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 22nd save in 27 chances.

Pineda didn’t allow a hit until the fourth, but struggled with his control and couldn’t escape his mess in the seventh when he walked the bases loaded, sandwiched around a strikeout of Alex Gonzalez. Pineda missed on a close 3-1 pitch to Nate McLouth to jam the bases, ending his night. Pineda struck out five, but also tied a season high with five walks.

Aaron Laffey entered to face Schafer, whose single to right field got the Braves even at 3. The hit was just Schafer’s fifth against a left-hander this season. Laffey struck out Heyward on a pitch in the dirt before McCann’s base hit to right gave the Braves the lead.

Notes

Seattle catcher Miguel Olivo left in the fourth inning because of cramps. He was being treated in the clubhouse and re-evaluated after the game. … The Braves activated Hanson from the 15-day disabled list to make the start and optioned RHP Jairo Asencio to Triple-A Gwinnett. … Ackley has the second-longest streak of reaching base to start a career in Mariners history. Alvin Davis set the mark of 47 games in 1984.

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