August 30, 2012

Miami Marlins’ Jacob Turner falters as Nationals’ skid is over

Jacob Turner had trouble in his second time through the Nationals’ lineup as Miami was defeated by Washington.

For three innings Wednesday night, Jacob Turner was almost perfect: 29 pitches, 23 strikes, four strikeouts, no hits.

But things didn’t go well his second time through the Nationals’ lineup.

A five-hit, four-run fourth inning — started by the first of two Bryce Harper home runs — ruined Turner’s Marlins Park debut in front of a crowd of 24,909 as first-place Washington held off a late Miami surge and won 8-4.

“I threw a couple pitches that were really good and got really good results and threw a couple pitches that were really bad and got really bad results,’’ Turner said. “I’ve got to do a better job keeping the ball down. Even the balls that didn’t go out, there were some long fly balls.’’

Harper homered twice for the first time in his career, then got ejected in the ninth for slamming his helmet after bouncing into a double play. First-base umpire CB Bucknor gave him the heave-ho.

But before Harper was ejected, his second shot, a 425-foot bomb that landed in the upper deck in right, provided the difference in the game and helped Washington (78-51) snap its five-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, the Marlins’ bats, fresh off of a 9-0 drubbing over Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday, failed to wake up until they were already down 5-0. The Marlins were no-hit through the first four innings.

But they rallied to trim the Nationals’ lead to a run and had runners on second and third with nobody out in the eighth, trailing 6-4. With the crowd at its loudest, neither baserunner reached home. Carlos Lee flied out, Giancarlo Stanton struck out and Justin Ruggiano grounded out to third.

“We got a golden chance right there,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We had them where we wanted. We’ve got second and third with the best hitters in our club coming up and we [couldn’t] do anything about it.’’

Early on things were looking good for Turner, the newly acquired right-hander from the Tigers. In his eighth career start and second as a Marlin, Turner struck out four of the first five batters he faced. In the third inning, all three batters grounded out back to the mound.

But the fourth inning was different.

Harper, who had struck out after chasing a ball in the dirt during his first at-bat, broke the scoreless tie with a two-run home run over the right-field fence.

Turner responded by striking out Ryan Zimmerman for the first out, but the recovery didn’t last long. After having the next two batters in an 0-2 hole, Turner gave up a single and then a triple.

The triple by Michael Morse careened off the edge of the curved wall in deep center. Ian Desmond singled in Morse on the next at-bat to complete the four-run inning.

“The ball went real high and I thought when I touched the wall in center it wasn’t going to hit the wall. But it hit the wall,’’ center fielder Gorkys Hernandez said. “Bad luck.’’

Turner was pulled after the fifth, having thrown 80 pitches and allowed five runs and six hits.

“The good thing about this kid was that he was not walking people, being behind people,’’ Guillen said. “... I still think this kid has got a lot of potential. Hopefully I’m not wrong. I don’t mind when people get hit. I mind when people start walking. Four runs in one inning killed him, but I like the way he throws.’’

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