video thumbnail

ATL@SEA: Cust takes Hanson deep in the fourth

SEATTLE -- A lot of things went wrong for the Mariners on Tuesday night, including injuries to both catchers and a loss by prize rookie Michael Pineda. But veteran Adam Kennedy stepped up to take the bullet, saying the 5-4 loss to Atlanta was all his fault.

Credit Kennedy for being a stand-up guy after stranding six baserunners and getting caught stealing in a crucial situation on a frustrating night, but this one was far from a one-man issue.

The Mariners were so short-handed at catcher after Miguel Olivo was pulled with a muscle cramp in his right hamstring in the fourth inning that backup Chris Gimenez had to stay in the game and attempt to just bunt the ball rather than swing away after he strained an oblique muscle shortly after replacing Olivo.

That left Gimenez gutting things out -- and even making a critical, painful sweeping tag to prevent a run in the ninth inning -- but also adding a dead spot in an already struggling Mariners lineup.

Pineda, meanwhile, walked the bases loaded in the seventh and reliever Aaron Laffey allowed all three runs to score as the Braves overcame an early 3-0 deficit.

But Kennedy was shouldering full blame after leaving the bases loaded in the second inning, striking out with runners on second and third in the fourth and getting caught on the back end of a double steal behind Ichiro Suzuki in the seventh.

"I pretty much single-handedly lost that one," Kennedy said in a quiet clubhouse. "A lot of guys had good games and battled. Gimmy played hurt the whole game back there and the pitchers did their jobs. I just didn't do mine today."

Kennedy seemed most upset about coming up short with runners in scoring position, but the failed double steal loomed large after Justin Smoak walked and Dustin Ackley singled in one run instead of two in a 5-3 game at the time.

Braves catcher Brian McCann, who tortured the Mariners with a 4-for-5 day and also threw Kennedy out, said he sensed Ichiro might go even on a 3-0 count.

"I had a feeling Ichiro was going to try to steal third," McCann said. "We had the right play on trying to throw down to second. Looking at Kennedy, I knew he was going to go, just the way he was set up. We had the right play on and luckily I put the ball where it needed to be."

Ichiro indicated the play was a no-brainer in his mind.

"It's obvious," he said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "There's a 3-0 count, we had a good hitter at the plate, one hit could bring in two runs with a runner on second and third. It's an obvious play."

Kennedy was playing off Ichiro, going when the man in front of him broke for third with what manager Eric Wedge called an "aggressive play" that got canceled by McCann's perfect throw.

"I was ready for Ich to go the whole time," Kennedy said. "I wasn't late. He just threw me out. He didn't catch me off guard or anything, I just got thrown out."

The loss spoiled a breakout game by designated hitter Jack Cust, who hit a home run and double in his first start in two weeks.

Despite that welcome boost, Seattle suffered its second straight setback to the National League visitors as Pineda took the loss after a promising start.

The hard-throwing 22-year-old held Atlanta hitless for 3 2/3 innings and didn't give up a run until the fifth, but control problems -- a career-high-tying five walks -- led to his demise.

Pineda wound up allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits over 6 1/3 innings, his record dipping to 7-5 with a 2.65 ERA after he walked the bases full in the seventh and all three runs crossed the plate after he was replaced by Laffey.

The loss dropped Seattle to 39-41, third in the American League West and three games behind the front-running Rangers.

Cust, whose playing time in recent weeks went to rookies Mike Carp and Carlos Peguero, blasted his third home run of the season with a solo shot in the fourth after lacing an RBI double in the second.

Cust, just 3-for-30 this month coming into the game, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. His last at-bat was a screaming line drive to right field off tough lefty Jonny Venters, but Jason Heyward made an excellent catch before bumping into the wall.

Ichiro ripped his first home run of the season on the first pitch from Tommy Hanson, just coming off the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. It was Ichiro's 33rd career leadoff home run, tying him with Paul Molitor for ninth on Major League Baseball's all-time list.

Seattle closed the lead to 5-4 with an RBI single by Ackley in the bottom of the seventh. Ackley has now reached base in 11 straight games since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma.

Atlanta couldn't tack on an extra run in the ninth when Ichiro gunned down Heyward at the plate as he tried to score on a fly ball by Jones.

MLB.com Comments