ATLANTA — John Buck downplayed his recent power surge against the Braves as simply taking advantage of the odds.
Buck had three hits, including a two-run homer in the seventh inning that gave Seattle the lead, and the Mariners rallied to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-5 Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.
The homer was Buck’s fourth against the Braves since the start of the 2013 season — including the only three he has hit at Turner Field. No other player has more homers against Atlanta in that span.
Asked about his power surge against the Braves, the 33-year-old catcher shrugged and said he has hit “a couple here and there.”
“You play them enough, you’re bound to get a few,” Buck said.
The Braves led 4-0 in the first inning and 5-2 in the second. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon was forced to turn the game over to his bullpen after only three innings.
Four Mariners relievers combined for six scoreless innings.
“It was not an ideal win,” McClendon said. “Obviously you don’t want your bullpen to have to cover that many innings, but they did a fantastic job and I don’t think anybody got really stretched. That was the good thing.”
Dominic Leone (2-0) had four strikeouts in two perfect innings.
Buck’s homer, his first of the season, came off Alex Wood (5-6), Atlanta’s third pitcher. The shot to right field drove in Dustin Ackley, who reached on a two-out soft roller down the first-base line.
“We let them hang around and they came back and they got the big hits,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You’ve got to give them the credit.”
Buck said he started guessing Wood’s pitch selection after the left-hander threw a first-pitch changeup.
“Then he came in with a hard fastball and I said all right, I had that feeling he might come with a changeup,” Buck said. “I looked for it up and I hit it.”
Buck had three hits and scored three runs in only his 14th start this season. He played for the Mets and Pirates in 2013 following two seasons with the Marlins. He has ample experience in Atlanta — but before last year little of it was positive. He began the night with a .150 career batting average at Turner Field.
The Turner Field air, normally thick with humidity, was unusually dry — even if Buck’s teammates still complained about sticky conditions.
“Everybody was complaining about it being humid, but I was like you guys have no idea,” he said. “This place gets to be nasty.”
The drier air helped the teams combine for four homers in the interleague matchup.
Seattle pinch-hitter Stefen Romero hit a three-run homer in the fourth that tied the game 5-all. Evan Gattis and B.J. Upton hit homers for the Braves.
Fernando Rodney had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma before the game for his seventh start with Seattle, gave up five runs on eight hits, including two homers, in only three innings.
The Braves led 4-0 before Ramirez recorded his second out. Freddie Freeman’s single drove in Jason Heyward, who led off with a double. Gattis followed with a three-run homer, his 12th.
Upton’s second-inning homer to center field gave Atlanta a 5-2 lead.
Gavin Floyd, still looking for his first win in his sixth start with Atlanta, couldn’t hold the lead. A two-base throwing error by third baseman Chris Johnson set up run-scoring singles by Brad Miller and James Jones in the second. Romero’s three-run homer tied the game in the fourth.
Floyd gave up 10 hits and five runs, three earned, in five-plus innings.
Cano had three hits. … The Braves are 0-5 in interleague games. … Seattle IF Nick Franklin was optioned to Tacoma. … Braves RHP Jordan Walden, a key setup man on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, threw in the bullpen before batting practice. Walden’s next step will be a minor league rehab assignment. … Rookie 2B Tommy La Stella’s strikeout in the third inning was his first in his 17th at-bat. … Braves LHP Mike Minor will face Mariners RHP Hisashi Iwakuma as the two-game series ends on Wednesday.