The Atlanta Braves have relied on the longball and their pitching all year. Monday's game was no different.
Brandon Beachy turned in his second straight strong outing after coming off the disabled list last week, going six innings and striking out nine, but he had some cushion before he ever took the mound.
Brian McCann started what would end up being a 3-for-4 night in the first inning with a mammoth solo home run to right-center against Seattle Mariners starter Erik Bedard (4-6, 3.00 ERA). McCann accumulated three of Atlanta's five hits.
Beachy then took his cue to mostly shut down Seattle. He surrendered only three hits and walked one. He struck out Ichiro Suzuki the first two times he faced him, and his only mistake came on a solo shot hit by Adam Kennedy in the fourth inning.
Beachy improved to 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA. He, however, is still not happy with his performance, even though he has struck out 20 since his return from the DL.
"I'm wasting too many pitches. I'd like to get deeper in games," Beachy said. "I really need to get through seven… I've got to be more efficient."
He was apparently just efficient enough, as McCann led off the top of the seventh with a single, followed two batters later by Freddie Freeman's ninth home run of the year to give Atlanta the final 3-1 tally.
"It felt good just to put us ahead," Freeman said.
That was enough for the Atlanta bullpen. Although George Sherril only lasted 1/3 inning after giving up hits to Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp in the seventh, Scott Linebrink bailed him out with a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the jam.
After Eric O'Flaherty pitched a scoreless eighth in place of Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel slammed the door for his 21st save. He struck out Justin Smoak, Ackley and Miguel Olivo in order to end the game.
Jason Heyward hit in the lead off spot for the first time in his major league career. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said that it was to both give Jordan Schafer a break, especially against a lefty (Schafer is 4-for-34 against them), and to give Wilkin Ramirez some cuts. Heyward was the only Brave other than McCann or Freeman to register a hit when he hit a double in the eighth inning.
Brian McCann has hit 10 homers in his last 23 games. He is hitting .361 with 18 RBI in that span and has increased his batting average from .281 to .307.
With the Philadelphia Phillies idle Monday, the Braves are now 4.5 games out of first place.
Tuesday's starters will be Tommy Hanson (8-2, 2.48 ERA) and Michael Pineda (7-4, 2.45 ERA) for Seattle in a 10:10 EDT start.
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