Marlins pitcher Jacob Turner can look back on his homecoming with mixed emotions.
Turner struggled in his first three innings — putting the Marlins in a deep enough hole that they could not dig out of — before settling down and breezing through his final three innings, facing the minimum.
In the end, though, Turner — who grew up in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, Mo., and attended several games at Busch Stadium as a Cardinals fan — was the losing pitcher in a 4-1 Cardinals victory Friday before 46,177, the second-largest crowd of the season at Busch Stadium behind opening day.
“No matter what happened today, I was going to enjoy it being my hometown and everything,” said Turner, who lasted six innings and allowed four runs on seven hits. “But I wish I would have pitched a little better, pitched a little deeper in the game.”
Turner was not the only one who had his iffy moments.
The umpires botched a call that snuffed out the Marlins’ best opportunity to do some damage against Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook.
The Marlins’ lone run came on Logan Morrison’s second-inning home run that traveled 440 feet. But in the fifth inning, the Marlins had runners on first and second and nobody out, thanks to the first of two errors by Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter, when Turner came to the plate.
But Turner’s attempt to sacrifice turned into a double play when he was tagged out by catcher Yadier Molina, who then threw to third base where Adeiny Hechavarria was out.
The play had several elements that were questioned.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond came out to argue because he thought the ball was foul. With the play called fair, third-base umpire Brian O’Nora called Hechavarria out even though he was never tagged by third baseman David Freese. O’Nora was not aware that Turner was tagged out by Molina, which eliminated a force play.
“I thought the ball was clearly foul,” Redmond said. “He called it fair and after that I don’t really know what happened. I saw guys being called out … everybody was out. I thought it was a triple play.”
Freese immediately fired to first base because Turner was so confused he just kept running even after being tagged by Molina.
“I don’t really know if it was the correct ruling,” Turner said. “It seemed like it was foul to me. I was just confused if I was out, if I had to run.”
Both Turner and Redmond agreed none of this would have happened if Turner executed the bunt.
“If I get the bunt down, we don’t have any problems,” Turner said.
Hechavarria headed to the dugout and when Redmond came out to argue, Hechavarria attempted to sneak back to the bag. But Westbrook had the ball and guarded the bag, ready to tag Hechavarria.
Hechavarria never got the chance as the umpires stuck with the ruling that he was out on the throw.
Crew chief and home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth said O’Nora was blocked by the play and never saw him call Turner out on the tag by Molina.
“It was an unfortunate circumstance of three or four things taking place at once,” Culbreth said. “I think the runners, fielders and possibly even my colleagues couldn’t see my actions as well. And that’s what led to the confusion.”
The Marlins did not protest.
And even if Hechavarria was safe, it likely would not have mattered. The Marlins finished with just three hits — Morrison’s home run and two infield singles — and Cardinals pitchers retired the final 10 Miami batters, five on strikeouts.
“We only had three hits,” Redmond said. “I’m sure that could have definitely helped us, but we didn’t help ourselves out.”
While Turner (2-1) was a nice story of the local boy coming home to pitch for the first time in his hometown against the team he supported as a kid, but the sellout had much more to do with the giveaway, a bobblehead doll of Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon.
Turner, 22, was coming off the lone complete game of his 20-start career, giving up seven hits to the Padres in a 7-1 victory Saturday. But the Cardinals were ungracious hosts from the start.
St. Louis jumped on Turner early, putting together back-to-back doubles by Matt Holliday and Allen Craig in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Although Morrison got the run back in the second with his third home run of the season, Turner again ran into trouble in the third.
The first three batters reached on two singles and a double and all three scored, the final run coming on Matt Adams’ two-out double.
Turner settled down and allowed just one base runner in his final three innings.
“I thought he pitched a nice game,” Redmond said. “After giving up a couple of runs early, he settled in and gave us some nice work.”