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McCann keys Atlanta's rally past Seattle 5-4

POSTED: June 29, 2011 11:33 a.m.

SEATTLE (AP) — Tommy Hanson wasn't all that interested in talking about his return from the disabled list.

"You want me to talk about how great Brian McCann is?" Hanson questioned. "He's unbelievable."

McCann is a good place to start, considering the hot streak he's on right now.

McCann tormented Seattle pitching again with a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning, part of a four-hit night by the Atlanta catcher, and the Braves rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Mariners 5-4 on Tuesday night.

The Braves took advantage of late control problems by starter Michael Pineda (7-5) and the Mariners' inability to come through with a clutch hit early against Hanson. Seattle left the bases loaded in the second inning, and runners on second and third in the fourth. They were limited to one run both times.

That gave Hanson (9-4) time to settle down, his offense time to rally and McCann another stage to shine.

And McCann did it both at the plate and in the field.

His two-run single off Seattle reliever Aaron Laffey in the seventh capped a three-run rally for the Braves. In the bottom of the seventh, McCann kept the Braves in front with a perfect throw on the back end of a double steal.

McCann threw out Adam Kennedy at second with Justin Smoak at the plate. Kennedy took off on a 3-0 pitch, and McCann's perfect throw to second nabbed Kennedy as Ichiro Suzuki slid safely into third.

"I pretty much single-handedly lost that one. That wasn't good," Kennedy said.

It was a crucial out as rookie Dustin Ackley followed with an RBI single to pull Seattle within 5-4. If Kennedy was safe, he likely would have scored on Ackley's hit.

"I had a feeling that Ichiro was going to try and steal third and we had the right play on throwing down to second," McCann said. "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."

McCann followed up his three-hit performance on Monday with a four-pack of singles on Tuesday. Since May 28, McCann is hitting .391 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs and has more than half of Atlanta's 13 hits in the first two games of this series.

"Things are going good. I'm seeing the ball well, getting good pitches to hit, working counts, being patient," McCann said. "When I have those things going I feel confident I can get some hits."

He wasn't alone with the clutch hitting. Jordan Schafer, with just four hits all season off lefties, had an RBI single in the seventh off Laffey to get the Braves rally started. Dan Uggla hit his 12th homer of the season in the fifth and the Braves added an unearned run in the sixth.

With Hanson's early shakiness, it was a surprise he was still around in the sixth. His first pitch coming off a stint on the disabled list — a get-it-over-fastball — was hit into the seats in right by Suzuki. That shot snapped a 99-game homerless streak for the Mariners' leadoff hitter.

It was Suzuki's 33rd leadoff homer, tying him with Paul Molitor for ninth on baseball's career list. Suzuki hadn't homered in 414 at-bats, dating to Sept. 11, 2010.

Seattle later got contributions from Jack Cust, making his first start in two weeks. Cust hit an RBI double in the second and added a solo homer in the fourth. But Seattle failed to break the game open.

The Mariners had bases loaded and one out in the second, but Brendan Ryan struck out looking and Smoak popped out to right. In the fourth, Ryan and Suzuki were on second and third with two outs, but Kennedy struck out to end the threat.

Hanson struck out eight in his first start since June 12. He walked three, but retired his final seven batters.

"At first ... I felt like I was trying to rush to home plate and really get going," Hanson said. "I felt a lot more comfortable once I realized I needed to slow down a little bit and get down in the zone."

Cust put a scare into the Braves when he jumped on Jonny Venters' fastball in the eighth but Jason Heyward tracked down the liner as he crashed into the wall in right. Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 22nd save in 27 chances.

NOTES: Seattle C Miguel Olivo left in the fourth inning because of cramps. He was being treated in the clubhouse and re-evaluated after the game. ... The Braves activated Hanson from the 15-day DL to make the start and optioned RHP Jairo Asencio to Triple-A Gwinnett. ... Ackley has the second-longest streak of reaching base to start a career in Mariners history. Alvin Davis set the mark of 47 games in 1984.

 

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