On multiple occasions, manager Lloyd McClendon said the bullpen is the backbone of the Mariners. Tuesday night, the seven-man group showed why, leading Seattle (30-28) to a 7-5 win over the Braves on an 86-degree night at Turner Field in Atlanta. The win extended Seattle’s winning streak to four.
The pen — this game featuring Tom Wilhelmsen, Dominic Leone, Danny Farquhar and Fernando Rodney — combined for six shutout innings, two hits, zero walks and nine strikeouts. It allowed the Mariners to storm back from 4-0 and 5-2 deficits after the National League East-leading Braves jumped all over starter Erasmo Ramirez.
Ramirez (1-4, 6.82) filled the fifth spot in the rotation after the team decided Brandon Maurer (1-5, 7.50 ERA) was not capable of pitching in the majors any longer. Ramirez hadn’t been much better, carrying a 1-4 record and 6.00 ERA through six starts. The Braves got after him quickly.
Atlanta (31-26) scored five runs in the first two innings on eight hits against Ramirez. Catcher Evan Gattis provided the big blow with a three-run homer in the first as the Braves took a 4-0 lead.
The Mariners took two back in the second when John Buck (on an error) and Dustin Ackley reached base and scored on singles from Brad Miller and James Jones.
B.J. Upton added a solo homer in the second to put the Braves up 5-2. That was it for the Braves, as Ramirez struck out Atlanta starter Gavin Floyd with the bases loaded to end the third and was lifted for a pinch hitter in the fourth.
That pinch hitter, Stefen Romero, put the Mariners back in the game and gave the bullpen a clean slate when he sent a 1-0 pitch from Floyd over the left-center wall for a game-tying three-run homer.
Floyd (0-2, 2.80 ERA) pitched five innings and yielded five runs (three earned) on 1o hits. He walked one and struck out four in taking a no-decision.
The bullpen settled in with the resurgent Wilhelmsen getting the ball first. He allowed one hit and walked two, holding Atlanta scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings. The former closer responded after a terrible second half in 2013, thanks to reclaiming command of his fastball and devastating curve.
McClendon then handed the ball to Leone for the sixth and seventh. Leone, a rookie with a 1.40 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, did not allow a baserunner while notching four strikeouts.
The Mariners offense, getting contributions from different players each night lately, came through in the seventh.
Buck, getting the start with a day game Wednesday, delivered a two-out, two-run home run off reliever Alex Wood for a 7-5 lead. For Buck, it was his third hit of the night and first home run as a Mariner. He finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI.
One night after notching 12 hits against the Yankees, Seattle came up with 13 versus the Braves. Robinson Cano was 3-for-5 with a double, Michael Saunders was 2-for-5 and Brad Miller was 2-for-3 with two runs, an RBI and a walk.
Given the lead, Farquhar and Rodney closed with no trouble, the latter picking up his 15th save in 17 attempts.
Entering the game, the Mariners pitching staff limited opponents to a .238 (450×1888) batting average, which ranks third in the American League behind Oakland (.223) and Los Angeles (.230) and would be the second lowest opponent batting average in club history, trailing only the 2001 club (.236) . . . Ramirez, called up from AAA Tacoma, took the 25-man roster spot of SS Nick Franklin (4×31) , who was sent back Tuesday. Ramirez gave up eight hits and five runs while striking out four over three innings. . . . RHP Taijuan Walker was lifted after two innings in his second rehab outing with Tacoma. Walker allowed one run on one hit and four walks. He struck out four and hit a batter.