Published June 28, 2011
| Associated Press
SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners have struggled at the plate so frequently it's been hard to distinguish one night from the next.
The lackluster effort Monday against Atlanta seemed to particularly bother manager Eric Wedge.
"We've had some tough nights this year offensively, but tonight was particularly disappointing," Wedge said. "We gave away some ABs and didn't have people step up when we had some opportunities."
The Mariners wasted another stellar pitching performance, this time from Erik Bedard, in their 3-1 loss to the Braves to open their interleague series. Bedard made a pair of mistakes, giving up a first-inning homer to Brian McCann and a tiebreaking, two-run shot to Freddie Freeman in the seventh.
In between, Bedard was outstanding. McCann solved Bedard with three hits, but the rest of the Braves' lineup was a combined 0 for 18 before Freeman jumped on a first-pitch fastball and clubbed a 412-foot shot over the center-field fence, just out of the reach of Franklin Gutierrez.
"Those big home runs like that, as soon as you let it go it's like, 'oops, it's gone,'" Bedard said.
Bedard (4-6) was a hard-luck loser despite his 12th straight start giving up three earned runs or less. He allowed four hits and struck out five.
Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Atlanta's Brandon Beachy (3-1) was nearly at his best. He struck out five his first time through the Mariners' lineup and nine total, just two short of his career high. He has 20 strikeouts in 12 innings since coming off the disabled list.
Beachy allowed three hits and four baserunners, but made one crucial mistake. In the fourth inning, he left a 3-1 fastball over the middle of the plate and Adam Kennedy slapped it into the seats in right for his sixth homer of the season.
Beachy didn't lament Kennedy's solo homer too much but was critical of himself for letting his pitch count climb early and being unable to make it into the seventh.
"I'm wasting too many pitches. I would like to get deeper into games," Beachy said. "I really need to get through seven, get into the eighth inning. That's just something I need to be able to do. I need to be more efficient."
That was the extent of the offense for the Mariners, although they had chances. And none bigger than the missed opportunity in the fifth.
Mike Carp led off with double down the left-field line, snapping an 0-for-11 slide. He moved to third when Gutierrez rolled a grounder to second base.
Maligned third baseman Chone Figgins then weakly fouled out down the third-base line, drawing a cascade of thunderous boos. Beachy ended the inning by striking out Ichiro Suzuki for the second time, fooling Suzuki badly on a pair of swinging strikes.
"These guys are going to have to find a way to get tougher up there, start squaring up some fastballs," Wedge said. "They can't feel sorry for themselves, can't get down on themselves. The only way you're going to get better is fight through it, be more aggressive and be tougher. Otherwise this game will beat the hell out of you."
Seattle briefly threatened in the seventh. Dustin Ackley led off with a single against reliever George Sherrill before Miguel Olivo's drive to deep left-center. But Nate McLouth had time to sprint over and make a sliding grab in front of the warning track. After Carp's infield single, Scott Linebrink entered and got Gutierrez to ground into an inning-ending double play.
NOTES: Atlanta's Jason Heyward batted leadoff for the first time in his career and went 1 for 4 with a double in the eighth off reliever Aaron Laffey. ... Braves RHP Tommy Hanson will come off the DL on Tuesday to make his first start since going on the disabled list June 13 with shoulder tendinitis. ... Ackley continued his impressive start, now having hit safely in eight of his 10 games and reached base in all 10 since the prized prospect made his debut on June 17.
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