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Jones hopes home run sparks offensive turnaround

MLB.com

MIAMI -- Getting that first home run out of the way is a starting point for Garrett Jones, who admits his offense right now is far from being a finished product.

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks for the Marlins' first baseman, who is being counted on to deliver production in the middle of the order.

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MIAMI -- Getting that first home run out of the way is a starting point for Garrett Jones, who admits his offense right now is far from being a finished product.

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks for the Marlins' first baseman, who is being counted on to deliver production in the middle of the order.

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"I definitely have not been swinging the bat anywhere close to what I want to do as far as consistency goes," Jones said. "But I have a lot of at-bats ahead of me."

Jones did deliver a big blast on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. He took Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick deep to right field for his first homer of the season. At the time, it was a big hit, because it put Miami in front, 3-1.

In the eighth inning, however, Chase Utley unloaded the decisive blow with his home run, and the Phillies pulled out a 4-3 victory.

For the Marlins, the entire six-game road trip -- all losses -- was marred by late-inning letdowns.

But had the Marlins held on, Jones' home run would have loomed large.

The Marlins have been slotting their left-handed-hitting first baseman either fourth or fifth in the order. Against right-handed starters, he bats cleanup behind Giancarlo Stanton. And often, he is hitting fifth against lefties.

Through 14 games, Jones, who homered again during Monday's 9-2 loss to the Nationals, is hitting .231 with two homers and seven RBIs.

"It's just changing my mindset," Jones said. "My swing feels fine. It's just being a little more aggressive at good pitches to hit earlier in the count."

The Marlins are looking for Jones to provide power from the left side, as well as offer protection in the middle of the order for Stanton.

He's delivered a few big hits already, like his RBI double last Wednesday night in Washington. With the score tied at 6, Jones doubled to right field, driving home the go-ahead run. He had a chance for a second RBI on the hit, but Stanton was thrown out at the plate.

But the lead was short-lived, as Jayson Werth hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, and the Nationals won, 10-7.

Jones right now is seeking more consistent contact. A point of frustration is he has struck out 24 times in 52 at-bats.

The home runs on Sunday and Monday, he hopes, are a launching point to get his game going.

"It's nice to put a good swing on the ball and hit it out," Jones said. "I want to continue getting more consistent at the plate, and drive the ball, that's for sure."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Miami Marlins, Garrett Jones