LOS ANGELES -- Ever since he was taken in the seventh round out of Cal State Fullerton in 2006 and pocketed his $50,000 bonus, Justin Turner has been scratching and clawing his way through professional baseball.
And this season he has lifted his game as a first-year member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, from a seldom-used utility player to a guy who can't be kept out of the lineup.
Turner added another page to his story Friday night.
The 29-year-old third baseman drove in the tying and go-ahead runs while batting cleanup for the first time this season to again spark the Dodgers in the 7-4 victory against the visiting Colorado Rockies.
“I only hit fourth in the first inning, and then I was just another guy in the lineup,” said Turner, who didn't break into the majors until he was nearly 25 and is playing for his third team since his debut.
Turner earned his prime spot in the batting order thanks to his major league-leading .410 batting average with runners in scoring position.
He got another opportunity to drive in runs in the decisive sixth inning and came through. It was nothing flashy, as is the norm for Turner, but another job well done.
With runners on second and third and the Dodgers trailing by a run, he bounced a perfectly placed grounder up the middle that was backhanded by Colorado second baseman DJ LeMahieu in shallow center field. Dee Gordon raced home from third, and Scott Van Slyke followed from second when LeMahieu was slow to get up. (LeMahieu later exited the game because of a left knee sprain suffered on the play.)
“I was just looking for a pitch up in the zone, trying to stay in the middle of the field,” Turner said of the two-run single.
Turner scored later in the sixth on another two-run single, by Juan Uribe.
He then was given the rest of the night off -- something he typically did for other players during his previous stints in the majors. Turner said little has changed since then.
“I just put my work in the cage and prepare, try to know how pitchers are going to try and attack me, and trust my game plan,” he said.
Turner upped his average to .419 with runners in scoring position. But there’s no reason to take his foot off the gas now, not with the playoffs less than a week away.
“We still have a lot to play for,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our momentum going into the playoffs. No one is going to go up there and give at-bats away or not try.
“I thought that was great to come from behind again. It’s a good feeling for us. It’s good to have that momentum back.”