Markakis, Sims lead Braves past Mariners
ATLANTA -- Nick Markakis feasted on Seattle Mariners pitching while in the American League with the Baltimore Orioles, and he is doing the same in interleague play for the Atlanta Braves.
Markakis hit a home run and had an RBI single as the Braves defeated the Mariners 4-0 behind rookie Lucas Sims’ six spotless innings Tuesday night.
Markakis, who had three hits in the series opener Monday, has a career .326 average with six homers and 30 RBIs in 69 games against Seattle.
“We haven’t made good pitches to him and he’s taken advantage of them,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s a good player obviously and he had big hits again.”
Sims (2-3) followed up his first victory Thursday at Colorado by giving up three hits and two walks Tuesday. The former first-round draft choice struck out four.
“They didn’t swing at him real good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He never stops pitching. He pulls that cap down and competes. He’s come a long way. He’s worked his tail off.”
Markakis’ homer came in the fourth inning, and his run-scoring single in the fifth staked Sims to a lead in the right-hander’s fourth major league start.
“He always moves on the next pitch. That’s hard to do,” Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said of Sims. “I know some vets who don’t do that. That’s going to help him throughout his career.”
The Mariners, who won 6-5 on Monday despite four errors, handed the Braves unearned runs in the sixth and seventh innings with two more miscues.
Ozzie Albies was trapped rounding third on a single by Ender Inciarte in the sixth, but he scored when Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager couldn’t handle a throw from catcher Mike Zunino.
Freddie Freeman had a RBI single in the seventh after center fielder Mitch Haniger dropped Brandon Phillips’ fly ball. Freeman was 2-for-3 with a walk, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
“We just haven’t played clean baseball,” Servais said. “We’ve got to tighten that up. We got away with it the first game. Tonight it got us.”
Left-hander Marco Gonzales, making his fourth start for the Mariners after a trade from St. Louis, needed 99 pitches in make it through 4 2/3 innings.
Gonzales (0-1) was charged with two runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out five.
Markakis delivered a two-out RBI single in the fifth to make it 2-0. The hit came off the first pitch lefty reliever James Pazos after Gonzales gave up a walk to Freeman and Matt Kemp’s second single of the game.
Markakis picked on a 3-2 changeup Gonzales left in the middle of the plate and pulled his eighth homer of the season over the 16-foot wall in right field to put the Braves ahead in the fourth.
Markakis has hit in 10 of his last 11 games, batting .375.
Robinson Cano led off the top of the inning for the Mariners with a double, but was stranded there when left fielder Kemp made a diving catch to rob Nelson Cruz and Sims retired the next two batters.
“Their guy threw a good ball game,” Servais said. “He kept us off balance and threw a good sinker. Our guys had a tough time squaring him up.”
It was the first home win for Sims, an Atlanta native.
“It seems like with each start there’s so much to learn,” Sims said. “You take a little bit from each one and try to better yourself.”
NOTES: DH/OF Nelson Cruz, who was 0-for-4 to snap a 12-game hitting streak, started in right field for the fifth time in eight interleague road games for the Mariners. He previously played the field for two games each at Washington and Colorado. ... Seattle placed RHP Tony Zych (right flexor strain) on the 10-day disabled list. ... RHP Dan Altavilia, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma by the Mariners, pitched two innings, allowing two hits and an unearned run. ... RHP R.A. Dickey (8-8, 3.98 ERA) will start Wednesday’s series finale for the Braves against RHP Erasmo Ramirez (5-4, 4.52). Ramirez has made four starts for the Mariners since being reacquired from Tampa Bay.