MILWAUKEE — Justin Turner took a giant uppercut swing in Saturday’s eighth inning that transformed the Brewers’ yellow rally towels into rags suitable for soaking up spilled beer.
The entire momentum of this NLCS shifted with Turner’s two-run jolt into the left-field seats that sent the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the Brewers in Game 2 at Miller Park.
And suddenly there are questions whether Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen can shoulder the burden of carrying the Brewers to their first World Series since 1982. The loss snapped the Brewers’ 12-game winning streak and sent the series to Los Angeles at 1-1.
Turner, the former Mets backup infielder who has blossomed into a star over the last five seasons in Hollywood, smashed a 2-0 splitter from Jeremy Jeffress that gave the Dodgers their first lead on a day they barely touched Brewers starter Wade Miley.
Turner entered play with a .313 postseason lifetime batting average that was second in franchise history to Steve Garvey’s .346 mark. And Monday is the one-year anniversary of the walkoff homer Turner hit at Dodger Stadium to beat the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS.
Entering play Turner had a .438 career on-base percentage in the postseason, which ranked fourth all-time behind Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Gene Woodling.
Pedro Baez, Kenta Maeda and Kenley Jansen protected the Dodgers’ lead over the final two innings. It didn’t come without a heartbeat-skipping moment for the Dodgers, as pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson’s flyball to right with the tying run on base in the eighth landed in Yasiel Puig’s glove near the fence.
Dissipated for the Dodgers was the sour taste of Clayton Kershaw’s clunker a night earlier, when the ace lefty lasted just three innings and allowed five runs in his latest postseason fiasco.
The Dodgers had their initial chance in the seventh against Jeffress, but pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded after the Brewers’ lead had shrunk to 3-2.
In the inning, Cody Bellinger delivered a pinch-hit RBI single — snapping an 0-for-15 to start the postseason — before Austin Barnes walked with the bases loaded for a second run.
Miley had a 1-0 lead to protect when he came to the plate in the fifth and singled for his second hit of the game. Lorenzo Cain doubled Miley to third before Ryan Braun’s RBI ground out gave the Brewers a second run. Orlando Arcia homered leading off the inning against Hyun-Jin Ryu for the game’s first run.
Travis Shaw’s homer in the sixth increased the Brewers’ lead to 3-0. It was the fourth homer in the series for the Brewers.
The Brewers received an immediate lift defensively when Cain reached over the fence in right-center to rob the third batter of the game, David Freese, of a home run. It was just the latest defensive jolt provided by Cain, an MVP candidate who arrived to the Brewers last offseason on a five-year deal worth $80 million.
“Defense was a huge part of the equation,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, when asked about the Brewers’ decision to sign Cain. “I think it probably was a central factor in the decision is how well he plays defense and the pride he takes in his defense and how important it is for him.”