Justin Turner wasn’t about to squander another opportunity late in the game, representing the go-ahead run. Putting Friday night’s four-strikeout debacle behind him, the Dodgers’ third baseman dug in against Jeremy Jeffress with Chris Taylor on first and no outs in the eighth.
Down 3-2, Turner got a splitter on the inner half of the plate that he didn’t miss. When the ball came down in the left field stands, the Dodgers had a 4-3 lead they would not surrender, sending the series back to Los Angeles at a game apiece.
“It did upset him,” manager Dave Roberts said about Turner’s rough night Friday. “It takes a special athlete to have a night like he had last night and to show up the next day in a big spot and want to have the bat in your hand. And Justin is that guy, and those are hard to come by.”
The homer for Turner was his seventh in the postseason over his career, the fourth of the go-ahead variety.
“(Taylor) had a hell of an at-bat battling,” Turner said. “Finding a way on base to start the inning off, and looking for something to get in the air there, and got a changeup that I didn’t miss. So that felt good.”
Priding himself on the hard work that has brought him to be one of the best hitters in baseball, Turner took the poor showing Friday hard.
“Yeah, I think it’s well documented that was probably the worst game of my career offensively,” said Turner. “But I think you just shrug it off to be about baseball. We’ve got to go to sleep and show up and do it again today.”
“Yeah, obviously I wasn’t feeling good about myself last night and wasn’t happy with the results, but like I said, today was a new day and another chance to go out and win a ballgame.”
For all the talk of the Brewers bullpen and Dodgers starting pitching as the strengths coming into the NLCS, it hasn’t played out exactly the way either team had planned.
Seven of the nine runs the Brewers have scored in the first two games have come against Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers have scored eight of their nine runs against Milwaukee’s talented relievers.
There was hardly any life for the Dodger offense at all until the Brewers went to their bullpen. Wade Miley allowed only two hits in 5 2⁄3 innings and retired 16 straight in between a Turner single in the first and Taylor’s single in the sixth.
With the heart of the Dodger order coming up behind Taylor, manager Craig Counsell went to his bullpen. Right-hander Corbin Burnes needed just three pitches to get out of the inning on a Turner line drive to Lorenzo Cain in center.
The only solid contact the Dodgers had against Miley all day came in the first inning when David Freese drove a ball to the right of center. Clearly heading over the fence, Cain calmly reached up and snagged it, robbing Freese of a big two-run homer.
Ryu matched Miley for the first four innings before running into trouble against the bottom of Milwaukee’s order in the fifth.
The light hitting shortstop Orlando Arcia put a good swing on a cutter, sending it over the fence in dead center. Miley followed with his second hit of the day, a line drive to center to turn the lineup over to Cain and Yelich.
Manager Dave Roberts would go to Ryan Madson out of the bullpen after Cain yanked a double to left. Intentionally walking Christian Yelich to load the bases, Madson was looking for a double play.
Ryan Braun did hit a ball on the ground but it was a slowly hit chopper to short, allowing Miley to score from third easily. Madson would strike out Jesús Aguilar to end the inning, but the Brewers now had a 2-0 lead.
It wouldn’t get any easier for Los Angeles after Travis Shaw smoked a solo homer off Alex Wood in the sixth, stretching the deficit to 3-0.
When Burnes came back out for the seventh, the Dodgers immediately inserted Max Muncy in place of Freese. Muncy walked to set the table for the big bats behind him.
Manny Machado and Cody Bellinger put together back-to-back singles to score Muncy and chase Burnes from the game. With the Brewers going to Jeffress, Roberts went to Joc Pederson off the bench. A pop fly single for Pederson loaded the bases to keep the heat on.
The Dodgers were on the verge of turning the lineup over but were out of bench players. After Austin Barnes worked a one-out walk to bring in another run, Roberts was forced to send Yasmani Grandal to the plate as the last hitter off the bench for Los Angeles.
Grandal would ground into an inning-ending double play to cut the rally short.
The Brewers chose to stick with Jeffress in the eighth, hoping to bridge to Corey Knebel in the ninth. Taylor and Turner made them pay for the decision. Taylor squirted a ball down the third base line that Mike Moustakas had no chance to get to in time to get the out at first, bringing Turner up to ruin the Brewers chance at a 2-0 series lead.
Kenley Jansen locked down the ninth, getting Cain on strikes and Yelich on a soft grounder to third.
Turner now owns a .439 career OBP in 39 postseason games. That ranks third all-time behind Lou Gehrig (.483) and Babe Ruth (.470). The 33-year-old is now 43-for-135 (.319) lifetime in the playoffs.
The Dodgers defeat the Brewers 4-3 to even the #NLCS at 1-1.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 13, 2018
Justin Turner’s 8th inning 2-run HR was his 4th postseason go-ahead HR since joining the Dodgers in 2014. That’s tied with Daniel Murphy for the most such postseason HR in that span. pic.twitter.com/TikE66Y011
The series shifts to Los Angeles at a game apiece. Walker Buehler will get the call against Jhoulys Chacin.
Home Runs: Arcia (1), Shaw (1), Turner (1)
WP: Pedro Baez (1-0): 1 1⁄3 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP: Jeremy Jeffress (0-1): 1 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
SV: Kenley Jansen (1): 1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout