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Justin Turner backs Kenta Maeda gem as Dodgers snap losing streak

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The return of Justin Turner produced a tangible result on Thursday for the Dodgers, who unloaded on the Marlins and got stellar pitching from Kenta Maeda to salvage a game in the series finale in Miami. The 7-0 win over the Marlins snapped a five-game losing streak.

Turner banged a three-run double to left field in the third inning then hitting another double to left field in the fourth, this time with two on. Turner’s five RBI tied his career high, done three other times, most recently in Game 1 of the 2017 NLDS.

The Dodgers had just three multi-run hits in 14 games in May before Thursday, when Turner had two himself. His first double was the Dodgers’ first three(or more)-run hit since April 16, and snapped a 1-for-12 skid with the bases loaded that saw them produce only five runs in 16 PA with the bases loaded in May.

Marlins starter Caleb Smith had a 3.53 ERA entering Thursday and just four walks in his previous four starts. But he walked four Dodgers on Thursday, including three in the third inning alone. Smith ran the count full to Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Austin Barnes before walking them all, needing 22 pitches to do so.

That loaded the bases for Turner in just his third game back. He unloaded the bases and is 6-for-13 (.462) since returning. Matt Kemp followed with a double of his own to score Turner, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 advantage to help end Smith’s day after just three innings.

In their previous 17 games the Dodgers had just one four-run inning before posting four-run frames in each of the last two contests.

Junichi Tazawa, who allowed three runs on three hits while recording one out on Wednesday, allowed three more runs on four hits in relief in the fourth inning on Thursday, and was designated for assignment by Miami after the game with his ERA now 9.00 in 20 innings.

It was more than enough offense for Maeda, who turned in his best start of the year. The right-hander allowed a double, a single and nothing else while striking out eight in his eight scoreless innings, matching the Dodgers’ longest start of the season.

Maeda retired the last 17 batters he faced and pitched into the eighth inning for just the second time in 65 career starts, and the first time since May 10, 2017.

Notes

  • Maeda is the third Dodgers starter to pitch into the eighth inning in 2018, joining Alex Wood on March 30 and Clayton Kershaw on April 8.
  • Puig homered in the fourth inning, his third home run in his last four games, after starting the season with no home runs in his first 28 games. He reached base in all four of his plate appearances Thursday.
  • Kemp doubled twice and had three hits, and is now hitting .318/.355/.504. He ranks sixth in the National League in batting average.
  • Thursday’s game ended a spate of close games for the Dodgers, who since their no-hitter on May 4 saw nine saves in 10 games (eight by the other team), and the other game lasted 12 innings.

Up next

The Dodgers move on to the nation’s capital to take on the Nationals for three games, including facing Max Scherzer on Friday night and Stephen Strasburg on Sunday. a Ross Stripling starts the opener for the Dodgers. LA is 0-5-2 in their last seven series. The last one they won was Apr. 20-22 against the Nationals, also with Scherzer and Strasburg pitching that weekend.

Weather could be an issue in Washington D.C. with a 100% chance of rain on Friday and 90% on Saturday. The Nationals had Tuesday’s game with the Yankees suspended after six innings by rain and were completely washed out on Wednesday.

Thursday particulars

Home run: Yasiel Puig (3)

WP - Kenta Maeda (3-3): 8 IP, 2 hits, 8 strikeouts

LP - Caleb Smith (2-5): 3 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts