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Justin Turner’s early exit could cause some discomfort for Dodgers

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner throws to first against Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner throws to first against Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

(Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

The defeat to the Pittsburgh Pirates was no reason for the Dodgers to be alarmed. Neither was Clayton Kershaw’s first loss in almost three months.

Justin Turner’s left knee?

That was another story.

With the discomfort in the knee gradually increasing over the course of the 3-2 defeat Saturday night, Turner removed himself from the game in the seventh inning.

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Turner said he expected to be sidelined the next day for the finale of the three-game series at Dodger Stadium and sounded uncertain what this could mean for the remainder of his season.

Asked whether he expected to deal with this problem for the remainder of the season, Turner replied, “I hope not.”

Turner speculated he could still be feeling the aftereffects of a ball he fouled off the knee earlier in the season, but Manager Don Mattingly said the condition was something the third baseman has played with for the last couple of seasons.

Turner said he felt something was wrong when he doubled off Pirates starter Francisco Liriano in the first inning.

“It was pretty uncomfortable the first couple of steps,” he said. “Sliding into second, it didn’t feel great. As the game went on and on, it felt worse and worse. It just kind of got almost unbearable.”

With the Dodgers holding an 81/2-game lead over the second-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West, Turner can probably take his time to recover. The magic number for the Dodgers to win the division is down to seven, as the Giants lost Saturday for the third time in four games.

Outside of Turner, the most frustrated person in the Dodgers clubhouse was right-hander Chris Hatcher, who had overcome a disappointing start to the season to become a trusted late-inning option for Mattingly in recent weeks.

Hatcher gave up an eighth-inning double to Aramis Ramirez that allowed the runner he inherited from Kershaw to score. That run moved the Pirates ahead, 3-2.

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“Threw a slider,” he said. “Didn’t have any lateral movement on it.”

The go-ahead run condemned Kershaw (14-7) to his first defeat in 12 weeks.

The last time Kershaw lost a decision was June 27 in Miami. After that, he went unbeaten for 13 consecutive starts and won nine decisions in a row.

Kershaw pitched reasonably well, limiting the Pirates to three runs and seven hits over seven-plus innings.

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The effort probably would have resulted in a win if Kershaw were pitching against someone other than Francisco Liriano, who was spectacular.

Liriano (11-7) gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings, striking out nine and walking two. After Turner’s double in the first inning, Liriano retired 16 consecutive batters.

Up next

Right-hander Mike Bolsinger (6-3, 3.13 ERA) will face right-hander Gerrit Cole (16-8, 2.60) and the Pirates on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Dodger Stadium. TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.

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