Mariners Offense Sputters, Lose to Braves 3-1

Scattering just four hits is normally a solid night for a Major League starting pitcher -- but not when two of those hits are gigantic home runs, and not when your offense continues to struggle offensively.

So was the story for Mariners lefty Erik Bedard on Monday night against Atlanta. Bedard was impressive again in seven innings, but it was two moonshot home runs to the deepest part of Safeco Field that ended up the difference in a 3-1 Seattle loss in front of 26,467.

The Mariners fell back to two games behind the American League West-leading Rangers, who did not play Monday.

It was same old, same old for the Seattle offense. The Mariners again struggled to get any offensive momentum going and other than a fourth-inning home run from Adam Kennedy could not string together enough runs to win.

The Braves, meanwhile, relied on the long ball Monday night. Brian McCann launched a 409-foot shot to center field in the first inning, while first baseman Freddie Freeman crushed a two-run homer just beyond the glove of Franklin Gutierrez in center field in the seventh inning to give Atlanta a 3-1 lead.

Behind Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy, it was all offense the Braves would need. The 24-year-old had it going Monday night and improved to 3-1 on the year after pitching six innings of three-hit ball while striking out nine.

Despite Beachy's impressive pitching, the Mariners had two chances to make some noise. Mike Carp, who started in left field, led off the fifth with a slicing double to the left-field corner and moved to third after Gutierrez grounded out to second.

But there would be no blood. Chone Figgins, who went 0-for-3 to lower his average to .186, popped out in foul territory and Ichiro Suzuki struck out swinging, stranding Carp on third.

Seattle rallied again in the seventh off the Atlanta bullpen. Dustin Ackley, who has reached base in his first 10 big league games, led off with a single to center and moved to second after a Carp infield single.

That brought up Gutierrez with runners at first and second with one out against Scott Linebrink, who replaced George Sherrill. But again, Atlanta escaped, as Gutierrez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

Besides the two home runs, Bedard was efficient again Monday. After the McCann home run, he retired 16 of the next 19 batters before Freeman's homer but fell to 4-6 on the year.