By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
ATLANTA — So this is how it’s suddenly going for the Mariners? Really?
For starters, Erasmo Ramirez returned Tuesday from minors and mucked about with the type of performance that got him sent him to the minors in the first place.
The Mariners also stranded eight runners in the first four innings and, at times, ran the bases like kids on an Easter egg hunt. And, still, it didn’t matter.
They rallied for a 7-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
It was strange right to the end, too. Fernando Rodney discovered he was wearing the wrong jersey as he prepared to enter for the Atlanta ninth. A short delay ensued to ensure sartorial symmetry.
“They’re the same color jersey,” said Rodney, who was wearing the warm-up top. “They put it on the wrong side (of my locker). When I looked, I didn’t see my (correct) jersey. The other one (was there), and I put it on.
“Then two outs in the (top of the) ninth, (Yoervis) Medina said, ‘Hey!’ I just called to the dugout, and (asked them to) send my jersey to the bullpen.”
Then Rodney rolled through a one-two-three inning.
“Stuff like that happens,” left fielder Dustin Ackley said. “Not too often, but you see some crazy stuff in this game.”
This particular game had more than its share.
John Buck broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run homer in the seventh inning after Stefen Romero erased a three-run deficit with a pinch-hit homer in the fourth. Romero was batting for Ramirez, who gave up five runs in three innings.
A four-man bullpen relay of Tom Wilhelmsen, Dominic Leone, Danny Farquhar and Rodney delivered six scoreless innings after Ramirez departed.
“It’s not an ideal win,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “You don’t want your bullpen to cover that many innings, but I thought they did a fantastic job. And I don’t think anybody really got stretched.”
Leone (2-0) got the victory as a reward for retiring six consecutive batters in the sixth and seventh innings. Rodney got his 15th save in 17 chances. The Mariners (30-28) now have won four in a row.
“We’re really coming together as a team,” Buck said. “It’s the bullpen stepping up tonight, collectively as a group, to throw up zeroes and keep us in that ballgame.”
Those zeroes don’t matter without the two homers.
It was 5-5 when Atlanta lefty Alex Wood (5-6) got two quick outs in the seventh inning before Ackley beat out a slow grounder to first. It was a single but probably should have been an out.
“It was kind of a tweener,” Ackley said. “You’ve got the first baseman and the pitcher both wondering who is going to get it. You’ve always got a shot.”
Buck cashed the opportunity by driving a 2-1 change-up over the right-field wall for his first homer of the season.
“I’ve faced Wood a couple times from being in this division (with the Mets and Marlins),” Buck said. “I knew he had a good change-up. I knew he liked to throw me in.
“First pitch, I was looking change-up, and he threw a good one that I don’t think I could have hit. He came in with a hard fastball, and I said, ‘All right.’ I just had that feeling he might go with another change-up.
“I looked for it out and ran into it.”
Leone, Farquhar and Rodney took it from there.
Ramirez showed little to warrant another start after giving up eight hits, which included a three-run homer by Evan Gattis in a four-run first, and B.J. Upton’s two-out drive in the second.
“I was looking forward to this opportunity,” Ramirez said. “I was working hard in Tacoma. I was throwing more strikes and working both sides. I was able to control my pitches way better than I did today. That’s disappointing.”
The Mariners, trailing 5-2, put their first two runners on base in the fourth when McClendon inserted Romero as a pinch-hitter for Ramirez — and everything changed.
“Initially, I thought I was going to bunt,” Romero said. “Then I saw (third-base coach Rich) Donnelly give me the hit sign, and I just wanted to drive something into the gap.”
Romero rocked a 1-0 fastball from Atlanta starter Gavin Floyd for a three-run homer that just cleared the left-center wall and pulled the Mariners even at 5-5.
“I think at that point,” Ackley said, “we were thinking, ‘OK, we’ve got this game. We’re in the driver’s seat now.’”