Justin Turner, Dodgers Jump On Stephen Strasburg Early To Beat Nationals
Justin Turner, Dodgers Jump On Stephen Strasburg Early To Beat Nationals
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ series with the Washington Nationals provided results on both ends of the spectrum through the first two games. Although the Dodgers exploded for eight runs in the series opener, the bats were held in check in an 8-1 loss on Wednesday. Thursday’s rubber match featured an undefeated starting pitcher against a young southpaw.

As a result of injuries sustained to the starting rotation, Julio Urias was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, and so too was reliever Grant Dayton. The Dodgers came out of the gate aggressive against Stephen Strasburg. Both Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick lined out to right for two quick outs on a total of five combined pitches.

Adrian Gonzalez followed by sending a fastball into the left field corner for a two-out double. Justin Turner battled and made his presence felt, hitting a two-run homer on a full count.

Trea Turner led off the bottom of the first by legging out an infield single on a grounder up the middle. Michael Taylor followed with a base hit to left field, putting Urias in early trouble.

After Daniel Murphy popped out, the Nationals executed a double steal with Bryce Harper at the plate. The Dodgers challenged the safe call at third base but were unsuccessful. Harper’s sacrifice fly cut the Los Angeles lead in half before Urias could get out of the inning.

Urias faced another threat in the bottom of the second but managed to work his way out of it. After Wilson Ramos opened the inning with a single to left field, Chris Heisey lined out and Danny Espinosa struck out swinging.

With two outs, Strasburg hit a dribbler up the middle that got through for a single, putting runners on first and second. However, Urias got Turner swinging on a changeup for his third strikeout of the game.

The Dodgers offense responded in the top of the third inning with more run support for the 19-year-old. Both Utley and Kendrick singled to left field to put two on with no outs. Gonzalez’s RBI single extended the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1 and left runners on the corners.

Justin Turner was given the green light on a 3-0 count and crushed a high fastball for a three-run homer. The home run was Turner’s second of the game and set a career high for the season with 17.

Urias retired the side in order in the bottom of the third, ending the inning by blowing a 95 mph fastball by a Harper. It was the third consecutive inning Urias ended with a strikeout. Strasburg returned to the mound confidently after allowing his second home run, retiring the Dodgers in order in the top of the fourth.

Urias worked around a Heisey two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, which wound up being his final inning of work. He threw 77 pitches, allowed one run and had four strikeouts. Strasburg walked Turner with two outs in the fifth but otherwise struck out the side.

Pedro Baez issued a leadoff walk to Strasburg before retiring the next two batters. Luis Avilan then took over, only for his first pitch to graze Murphy. Avilan then walked Harper to load the bases and it marked the end of his day.

Louis Coleman came on and needed all of one pitch to retire Anthony Rendon to end the inning. A Heisey base hit and Espinosa double trimmed the Dodgers’ lead to 6-2 with one out in the bottom of the sixth and knocked Coleman out of the game.

J.P. Howell struck out pinch-hitter Ben Revere, the handed the ball to Joe Blanton, who entered with Yasiel Puig as part of a double switch. Blanton limited the damage in the inning by retiring Trea Turner.

Puig grounded out to open the seventh and came up lame as he closed in on first base. Puig was removed in the next half inning with what was later called tightness in his right hamstring. After Taylor walked and stole second base, he scored on Murphy’s single that cut the Dodgers’ lead in half at 6-3.

The Dodgers were again retired in order in the eighth, while Adam Liberatore worked around a Jayson Werth pinch-hit double to turn in another scoreless appearance. Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth and allowed a single to Harper before earning a save in the Dodgers’ 6-3 victory. The loss was Strasburg’s first in 19 starts this season.