Seager caps 8th-inning rally as M’s topple Braves
ATLANTA — At first Kyle Seager anticipated the worst possible outcome. He thought his long fly ball in the eighth inning was going to be caught.
He was wrong.
The third baseman had three hits, but it was his three-run homer that highlighted a five-run, eighth-inning rally to propel the Seattle Mariners to a 9-6 win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday at SunTrust Park.
“To be honest, I thought he caught it,” Seager said. “I didn’t see it until it bounced.”
Seattle entered the inning trailing 6-5 and rallied against former Atlanta closer Jim Johnson, who allowed each of the four batters he faced to reach base.
Seager then greeted rookie reliever Dan Winkler with an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall, just out of the grasp of center fielder Ender Inciarte.
“In that situation with a guy on third, it’s a really big run there, so you try to stay in the middle of the field and get a ball out there and get it in the air,” Seager said.
Seattle won two of the three games against the Braves and finished the season with a 12-8 interleague record.
The winning pitcher was David Phelps, who was reinstated from the disabled list before the game. Phelps (2-1 with Seattle, 4-5 overall) worked two-thirds of an inning and did not allow a run for the seventh time in eight appearances since being acquired by the Mariners.
Edwin Diaz pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn his 29th save. He struck out the side in the ninth
Johnson (6-3) took the loss. He was charged with four runs on three hits and a walk. Johnson has allowed four runs in each of his past two appearances and 11 runs in his past four games. It was the ninth time he has blown a lead and left the game to a chorus of boos.
“Location, sink, ball not sinking,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said, reciting Johnson’s problems. “They’ve been working hard in the bullpen, hoping some of that might pay off today and it didn’t.”
Snitker opted to stay away from Jose Ramirez and Arodys Vizcaino, who have been Atlanta’s most reliable relievers of late.
“Felt like they had had a lot,” Snitker said. “Trying to get around those guys.”
The Braves had taken the lead with two runs in the seventh against reliever Marc Rzepczynski. One run scored on a double by Matt Kemp, the other on an infield out by Brandon Phillips.
Atlanta scored once in the eighth on Freddie Freeman’s RBI single and had two runners on base, but Diaz struck out pinch hitter Matt Adams to end the threat.
Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez allowed three runs in the first two innings before righting himself. From the third through fifth innings, he allowed just two hits and at one point retired nine consecutive batters.
Ramirez gave up three runs and six hits and struck out six, matching his season high, in six innings. It marked his third straight quality start.
He was just as impressive at the plate. He went 2-for-3 and became only the fourth pitcher in franchise history to get two hits in a game.
Atlanta starter R.A. Dickey gave up four runs in six innings, allowing 11 hits and two intentional walks. Dickey struck out six but managed to retire the side in order just once.
“It was a funny outing,” Dickey said. “You have to accept it with that pitch. When a knuckleball goes up, the thing that it does off the bat, sometimes is bewildering. I felt like I should have given up a couple of runs at the most. I was happy that I bent but didn’t break and gave us a chance.”
Atlanta scored twice in the first inning on Freeman’s double and a sacrifice fly from Nick Markakis.
Seattle answered with two runs in the second. Guillermo Heredia drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Ramirez singled and drove in a run, each the first of his career, to tie the game.
Atlanta made it 3-2 in the second inning when Dansby Swanson scored from third when Phillips hit a hard grounder to second base.
Seattle regained the lead with two runs in the third, as Seager and Mitch Haniger each had an RBI single.
NOTES: The Mariners designated OF Leonys Martin for assignment and activated RHP David Phelps from the 10-day disabled list. Phelps missed 14 games with right elbow impingement. ... Atlanta optioned LHP Max Fried to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled LHP A.J. Minter. Minter pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two in his debut. ... Mariners 2B Robinson Cano doubled twice on Wednesday, giving him 507 for his career, which allowed him to pass Babe Ruth and move into 56th place on the all-time list. However, Cano was injured while running the bases and left the game with right hamstring tightness. He is day-to-day. ... Seattle LF Guillermo Heredia had to leave the game after being hit near the right elbow on a pitch from Jason Motte. ... Both teams are off on Thursday. Atlanta continues its homestand on Friday with the start of a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies. Seattle continues its 12-game road trip against the New York Yankees.