Turner's epic series continues in Game 4
NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner played on a pair of sore knees Tuesday, but ultimately he inflicted the evening's most excruciating pain on the New York Mets.
The Dodgers' 3-1 triumph evened the National League Division Series at two games apiece and set up a Thursday (8 p.m. ET on TBS) showdown in Los Angeles to decide who moves on, with Turner delivering the contest's biggest hit -- a two-out, two-run double that capped Los Angeles' three-run uprising in the third inning. Turner also contributed defensively by making a deft stop of Wilmer Flores' sharp grounder to end the seventh inning and seal Clayton Kershaw's winning effort.
:: NLDS: Mets vs. Dodgers -- Tune-in info ::Turner has remained the most consistent Dodger in this series, leading both teams with a .467 batting average (7-for-15).
"It seems like everything they throw at him, he hits it hard," Los Angeles utility man Kiké Hernandez said. "I'm glad he's locked in. He's carrying us right now."
It was suggested to Turner that he might be doubly motivated in this series, having been released by the Mets -- while enduring the indignity of having his hustle questioned -- after the 2013 season. Mets manager Terry Collins must not have been the culprit.
"He did a great job when he was here," Collins said. "We root for him. We all cheered for him. We like him."
Insisted Turner, "That stuff's all in the past. It has no effect on me."
Being a Dodger certainly has had an effect on Turner. After hitting .340 for them in 2014 as primarily a reserve, the 30-year-old assumed an everyday role this year and hit .294 with career highs of 16 homers and 60 RBIs.
"Honestly, I never thought he'd be this good of a hitter," Kershaw said. "You know, he's one of the best hitters in the game. It's really impressive to see what he's been able to do since he got to us. We thought he'd be a great utility player, and he's turned out to be our three-, four-hole hitter and our starting third baseman. So, can't say enough about him."
A simple "thank you" would suffice. Kershaw himself singled off Steven Matz with one out to galvanize the Dodgers' big third inning before Hernandez's grounder forced him at second base. Howie Kendrick's single prolonged the inning for Adrian Gonzalez, whose bloop single scored Hernandez. Up came Turner, who mashed Matz's 2-0 curveball toward the left-field corner to send home Kendrick and Gonzalez.
With one swing, Turner exceeded the Mets' scoring for the game.
"This guy can hit all types of pitching -- righties, lefties, it does not matter," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. Turner and Gonzalez, Ellis added, "are the two guys, when you get runners on base, we're really confident in our dugout."