ATLANTA -- Kyle Seager (aka "Corey's Brother" for Players Weekend) capped a five-run eighth inning with a three-run homer, sealing the Mariners' 9-6 win over the Braves on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park."Seager had a huge home run," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "That was the game that wasn't going
ATLANTA -- Kyle Seager (aka "Corey's Brother" for Players Weekend) capped a five-run eighth inning with a three-run homer, sealing the Mariners' 9-6 win over the Braves on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.
"Seager had a huge home run," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "That was the game that wasn't going to be decided by one run. We needed to get the add-on runs, and he put a really nice swing on the ball and got it out of here."
The Mariners, who collected 15 hits, are one game behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot, after Minnesota lost to the White Sox, 4-3, on Wednesday.
Seager (3-for-5, four RBIs) extended the Mariners' lead shortly after Taylor Motter -- who replaced Robinson Cano after the star second baseman exited with left hamstring tightness -- hit a go-ahead, two-run single off Braves reliever Jim Johnson. Johnson (6-3) allowed four runs without recording an out.
"It is never easy when you've got to step into a big league game, as it is the best of the best out there," Motter said. "I learned how to slowly adapt myself to the game moving forward."
Johnson lost the closer's role near the end of July, and has allowed 11 earned runs over his past 2 1/3 innings (four appearances). But because setup men Jose Ramirez and Sam Freeman had pitched the previous two nights, Braves manager Brian Snitker went with Johnson, who has not retired any of the first four batters he's faced in each of his past two appearances.
"I just felt like they had had a lot. I was trying to get around those guys," Snitker said. "With the day off, you've got two days and then we've got a long stretch. You hate to do it, but then probably in retrospect, you pitch them. But the guys have been pitching a lot."
Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez allowed three runs over six innings, retiring 14 of the last 17 batters he faced. He also had his first two career hits, the first being an RBI single in the second.
"It was a big start by Erasmo tonight, and it is going to be a key with our starting pitchers to get us into the fifth- or sixth-inning range and see what happens from there," Servais said.
Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI double and Nick Markakis added two RBIs to lead the Braves' offense. Starter R.A. Dickey struggled with knuckleball command, allowing four runs on 11 hits over six innings.
"Guys were getting dinky hits, but they covered a couple, too. So, I need to own that," Dickey said. "But I felt I should have given up a couple of runs tonight at the most. I was happy I bent tonight, but didn't break and gave us a chance. Some nights, that's all you can do."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Return of Phelps: The Braves took a one-run lead in the seventh on Markakis' RBI fielder's choice against returning reliever David Phelps. However, Phelps kept the deficit at one by getting Ozzie Albies to ground out, stranding runners at first and second and setting the stage for the Mariners' five-run rally in the eighth.
Not Just "Corey's Brother": After Johnson exited with runners on first and third, Seager welcomed reliever Dan Winkler by crushing a 94-mph fastball over the center-field wall to push the Mariners' lead to 9-5. According to Statcast™, Seager's homer went 385 feet and had a 30-degree launch angle.
"It is just a situation that you have the guy on third and it's a pretty big run," Seager said. "I was trying to stay in the middle of the field, get a ball and put it in the air. I wasn't planning on it going out, as I just wanted to get the runner in. I am very thankful it went out, though."
"They told me that I had to start getting my pitches down. They said 'I don't know how you are going to do it, but you know you can do it. Just go with more confidence, and stop thinking too much. Just execute.' They called the pitches, and after that, I was better in that situation." -- Ramirez, on mound visit with catcher Mike Zunino and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre after second inning
"Confidence. Location. Sink. The ball isn't sinking like it did. They've been working hard in the bullpen. I was hoping some of that would have paid off today, and it didn't." -- Snitker, on what has been lacking for Johnson, who has a 7.50 ERA in 33 games since May 23
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cano passed Babe Ruth to move into 57th on the all-time doubles list with a pair of two-baggers -- Nos. 506 and 507 in his career. He left after doubling in the third.
Reliever A.J. Minter, the Braves' No. 24 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, recorded two strikeouts during a perfect ninth in his Major League debut. Minter was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett before the game, and now may find himself pitching meaningful innings through the rest of the season. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Mariners outfielder Guillermo Heredia remained in the game after getting hit on the right forearm by a Jason Motte pitch in the seventh. The Mariners successfully challenged the initial ruling that the pitch had hit Heredia's bat and resulted in a groundout. After the review reversed the call, Heredia took first base. However, he was replaced to start the bottom of the inning and is day to day.
Mariners: The Mariners have an off-day on Thursday before heading to New York to start a three-game set with the Yankees at 4:05 p.m. PT on Friday, the beginning of MLB Players Weekend. Ariel Miranda, who is 5-3 with a 6.19 ERA in 13 road starts, will get the nod.
Braves:Julio Teheran (aka "JT" for Players Weekend) will take the mound when Atlanta begins a three-game home series against Colorado on Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET, the start of MLB Players Weekend. Teheran threw seven scoreless innings against the Rockies on Aug. 14, and has not allowed a run over his past three starts (20 innings) against them.
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Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.