ATLANTA — Ozzie Albies got caught in a rundown, and it worked out just fine for the Atlanta Braves.
Then two of his teammates also found themselves trapped between bases, a daffy play that overshadowed a dominating start by Lucas Sims.
The rookie right-hander combined with three relievers on a five-hitter Tuesday night to lead the Braves to a 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners, whose shoddy defense in the interleague series was epitomized by a slapstick sequence that closed out the sixth.
With two outs and two runners aboard, Ender Inciarte grounded sharply up the middle. Shortstop Jean Segura made a stop on his knees, didn’t have a play at first but spotted Albies rounding third. Segura threw behind the runner, catching Albies in a rundown. But third baseman Kyle Seager dropped a throw, allowing Albies to race home with a head-first slide.
Seager’s error was one of six committed by Mariners in the first two games at SunTrust Park.
“We just haven’t played clean baseball,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We’ve got to tighten that up.”
But this play wasn’t done.
Not by a long shot.
First baseman Yonder Alonso, who wound up covering home as Albies slid across on his belly, spotted Inciarte lingering between first and second. Alonso ran straight at him before noticing Adams heading toward third. His attention diverted by yet another wayward runner, Alonso made the fifth throw of the play to catcher Mike Zunino — yes, he was now covering third — who tagged out Adams to finally bring it all to an end.
Braves manager Brian Snitker doesn’t mind his team being aggressive on the basepaths, but this was ridiculous.
“You can take that to the extreme,” he said. “We can’t continue to do that. We’re lucky we got away with it tonight.”
In reality, the nutty play was a mere afterthought.
Sims (2-3) won his second straight start after starting his big league career with three losses in a row. Seattle only got two runners as far as second base against the 23-year-old right-hander, a native of suburban Atlanta who won for the first time in front of the home folks.
“It seems like with each start, there’s so much to learn,” Sims said. “You take a little bit from each one and try to better yourself.”
After Sims was lifted for a pinch-hitter, Jose Ramirez pitched the seventh, Sam Freeman worked 1 1-3 innings and Arodys Vizcaino got the final two outs.
Nick Markakis put the Braves ahead in the fourth, leading off with his eighth homer of the season against Marco Gonzalez (0-1), yet another replacement starter in Seattle’s injury-plagued rotation.
Markakis added a run-scoring single in the fifth.
The Mariners, who made four errors on Monday, gave up another unearned run after center fielder Mitch Haniger fumbled away a routine flyball in the seventh.
Seattle began the night one game out of an AL wild-card spot.
Markakis goes deep
Atlanta’s left-handed-hitting outfielder has hit three straight homers off lefties.
Also, five of his eight homers this season have put the Braves ahead.
Cruz in the Field
With the designated hitter not being used for the interleague series, Nelson Cruz made his fifth start of the season in right field.
Cruz, leading the Mariners with 31 homers and 100 RBIs, didn’t play in the series opener. But Servais wanted his big bat in the lineup, so he decided to risk the defensive liability.
Turns out, Cruz handled his only fielding chance but went hitless in four at-bats.
Mariners RHP Tony Zych (right flexor strain) was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right flexor strain. Zych, who last pitched Saturday at Tampa Bay, is 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 45 appearances. “It’s probably the best thing to give him 10 days and let it calm down,” manager Scott Servais said. RHP Dan Altavilia was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to fill Zych’s spot on the roster. He made 29 appearances for the Mariners earlier this season, going 1-1 with a 5.46 ERA. … Seattle RHP David Phelps (right elbow) felt good after throwing a simulated game Monday in Atlanta and “could be activated here really soon,” according to Servais.
Mariners: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (5-4) makes his fifth start since being acquired from Tampa Bay in a July 28 trade. He is 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA for Seattle.
Braves: R.A. Dickey (8-8) makes his first appearance against the Mariners since Sept. 23, 2014, when he pitched for Toronto. The 42-year-old knuckleballer is 5-5 with a 4.99 in 15 career games vs. Seattle.