No luck for Mariners in loss against Braves

No luck for Mariners in loss against Braves
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erik Bedard waits for a new batter after giving up a 2-run home run to Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman in the seventh inning of a baseball game Monday, June 27, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
SEATTLE (AP) - Freddie Freeman saw first-pitch fastballs in his first two at-bats Monday night. He guessed right that Seattle starter Erik Bedard was going to throw him a third. "I didn't want to let another one go by, so I tried to get there a little bit earlier," Freeman said. Freeman became just the second Atlanta batter to get a hit off Bedard and his tiebreaking, two-run homer in the seventh inning gave the Braves a 3-1 win over the Mariners. Bedard (4-6) spent most of the night fooling the Braves before trying to sneak a high fastball past Freeman. The rookie was ready, hitting his ninth homer of the season. The drive barely eluded the reach of Franklin Gutierrez, who climbed the wall in center field only to come up a few feet short. It was another night when the Braves' talented youth was on display. Freeman's homer made a winner of young right-hander Brandon Beachy (3-1), who struck out nine in six strong innings before turning it over to Atlanta's stellar bullpen. George Sherrill, Scott Linebrink and Eric O'Flaherty were the bridges through the seventh and eighth before rookie Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save in 26 chances, striking out the side. For most of the night, Brian McCann was the entire Atlanta offense. He homered in the first off Bedard - his 14th of the season and fifth in the last eight games - and later added a pair of singles. Until Freeman's homer in the seventh, McCann was the only Braves batter to reach base via a hit, with the rest of the lineup going 0 for 18. "Curveball, fastball, lefty, right, it seems like he's just putting the barrel on the ball," Freeman said. "It's awesome to see." Freeman had put on a power display himself during batting practice, rattling the facade of the upper deck in right field, then showed off some of that pop with a 412-foot shot. "For Freddie to hit straightaway center in this ballpark, it's not a cheap one," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You've got to hit it to get it out of here. It plays legit." Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Beachy 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. "These guys are going to have to find a way to get tougher up there, start squaring up some fastballs," Mariners manager Eric 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." 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." Bedard 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, but wasn't helped by a Seattle offense that continued to struggle with runners in scoring position. Seattle missed chances in the fifth when Mike Carp's leadoff double was wasted as Beachy escaped the jam by getting a popout from Chone Figgins, then striking out Ichiro Suzuki for a second time. "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." In the seventh, rookie Dustin Ackley led off with a single off Sherrill, but Nate McLouth kept him there when he chased down Miguel Olivo's bid for an extra-base hit with a sliding catch in the gap.