Turner finds stroke with multi-hit night

Turner finds stroke with multi-hit night

LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner's 2016 season has been defined by two things: a consistent struggle to find hits and an unwavering commitment from manager Dave Roberts to keep the third baseman near the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Turner went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run in Saturday's 4-0 win over Atlanta, his 10th multi-hit game of the season. His first hit scored Clayton Kershaw with the game's first run and also snapped his 0-for-15 skid at the plate.

"Justin is a guy that I believe in, and his track record speaks for that," Roberts said. "For him to get that hit for us was good for him and his confidence. Threw out a couple of hits tonight. He got a big hit for us. He's been consistent with his work and getting on base, so for him to get that hit, I know it was a big relief for him."

Turner's great diving stop

Roberts' track record with lineups also speaks to how much he believes a turnaround for Turner is inevitable. Despite a slash line still sitting at an uninspiring .228/.329/.333, Turner has not batted lower than fourth this season. His 32 games batting third leads the team by a wide margin. Adrian Gonzalez is second with 12.

Turner's .329 on-base percentage does at least sit 10 points above league average, which has been a quality Roberts has repeatedly said he wants in a three-hole hitter. As far as improving his power, Roberts said before Friday's game that the keys will be for Turner to start pulling the ball more and to stop getting under the ball and creating easy fly balls.

Per FanGraphs, Turner is pulling the ball in 33.3 percent of his batted balls, down from 37 percent last year. His 38.9 percent fly-ball rate and 10.7 infield fly-ball rate are also on pace for career highs.

One solid game isn't going to reverse what has been a disappointing season for Turner, but he showed why he's hitting in the heart of the lineup.

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.