Ichiro's Leadoff HR Not Enough as M's Lose to Braves - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Ichiro's Leadoff HR Not Enough as M's Lose to Braves

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SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle Mariners finally got a few early runs, including Ichiro Suzuki's first homer in 99 games, and were still left lamenting all their missed offensive chances.

And now they are wondering if they will even have a completely healthy roster.

Seattle built an early 3-0 lead on the strength of homers from Suzuki and Jack Cust, but still lost for the sixth time in eight games as Atlanta rallied for a 5-4 win Tuesday night.

Brian McCann was again the culprit, but this time not just at the plate. He finished with four hits, including a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh that gave Atlanta a 5-3 lead.

But McCann's biggest play might have come in the bottom of the seventh when he threw out Adam Kennedy on the back end of a double steal.

With one out and Suzuki at second, the two runners broke on a 3-0 pitch from reliever George Sherrill. The Braves let Suzuki go, but McCann was able to throw out Kennedy with a perfect throw to second.

The out became huge. Justin Smoak walked and rookie Dustin Ackley followed with an RBI single to pull Seattle within 5-4. Kennedy likely would have scored on the hit.

Afterward, Kennedy was willing to take the brunt of the blame for the loss.

"I pretty much single-handedly lost that one. That wasn't good," said Kennedy, who also struck out to end the fourth with runners on second and third.

The Mariners staff was huddled late Tuesday trying to figure out if they had a healthy catcher available for Wednesday afternoon's series finale. Miguel Olivo left in the fourth inning with leg cramps, replaced by Chris Gimenez.

But Gimenez strained an oblique muscle in the fifth inning and remained in the game. He couldn't swing, the reason he tried dropping a bunt and eventually staring at a called third strike in the seventh inning with two runners on and two outs.

"Chris really sucked it up," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "He couldn't even swing the bat. We had to keep him back there."

Gimenez can be given a pass, but the Mariners missed chances early against Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson (9-4) to break the game open. Hanson's first pitch coming off a stint on the disabled list — a get-it-over-fastball — was hit into the seats in right by Suzuki. It was Suzuki's 33rd leadoff homer, tying him with Paul Molitor for ninth on baseball's career list. Suzuki hadn't homered in 414 at-bats, dating to Sept. 11, 2010.

Seattle later got contributions from 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 Smoak popped out to right. In the fourth, Ryan and Suzuki were on second and third when Kennedy struck out. Hanson struck out eight in his first start since June 12 against Houston. He walked three, but retired his final seven batters.

Seattle starter Michael Pineda (7-5) 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.

"I don't know what happened," Pineda said. "The seventh, I went out making good pitching the last inning but a couple of balls ... I don't know."

Aaron Laffey entered to face Jordan 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 Jason Heyward on a pitch in the dirt before McCann's base hit to right gave the Braves the lead.

McCann followed up his three-hit performance on Monday with a four-pack of singles on Tuesday. Since May 28, McCann is hitting .391 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs and has more than half of Atlanta's 13 hits in the first two games of this series.

"Things are going good. I'm seeing the ball well, getting good pitches to hit, working counts, being patient," McCann said. "When I have those things going I feel confident I can get some hits."

NOTES: The Braves activated Hanson from the 15-day DL 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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