Beltre held out of M's lineup for second straight game

ATLANTA -- Adrian Beltre was held out of Seattle's 8-3 loss to the Braves on Sunday for the second straight game and manager Jim Riggleman said the slugger could be back Monday when the Mariners begin a series at the New York Mets.

Riggleman said Beltre bruised his left index finger taking grounders a few days ago and has difficulty gripping a bat. Miguel Cairo got the start at third base for the second straight day.

Riggleman also said Erik Bedard, who left his start Friday night with back spasms, was "significantly better" by Saturday.

Bedard is expected to take his next turn in the rotation Wednesday against the Mets. If he can't go, Riggleman said his options include right-handers R.A. Dickey and Miguel Batista.

Batista blew a save opportunity by giving up two runs in the ninth inning of the Braves' 5-4 win on Saturday night. Riggleman expects fill-in closer Brandon Morrow, who has been receiving treatment for back spasms in Seattle, to join the team in New York on Monday, freeing Batista to return to the rotation.

Batista has started in 13 of his 19 appearances this season. He is 3-9 with a 6.26 ERA and has blown two of his three save opportunities.