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SD@MIA: Turner strikes out seven in complete-game gem

Jacob Turner has come a long way since leaving his hometown of St. Charles, Mo., to begin his professional baseball career.

Four years after the Tigers made Turner the ninth overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, the 22-year-old returns to his home state with the Marlins to face the Cardinals as one of baseball's best young pitchers.

Turner boasts a 1.76 ERA in six starts with Miami, marking the lowest ERA by a starting pitcher 22 or younger with at least 40 innings pitched since Mark Prior compiled a 1.67 ERA in his first six starts with the Cubs in 2003.

Turner's most recent outing -- a 7-1 win against the Padres on June 28 -- was the right-hander's first complete game. He gave up only one run and struck out seven.

"He's got a great pitching IQ," Miami pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said. "That's what I've learned. He doesn't talk much. He don't waste a whole lot of words. But when we sit down with the catchers before the game, we go through the lineup real quick and try to establish what we want to do.

"He's really impressed me. You don't get that a lot from young guys."

Turner is a key member of the Marlins' rotation now, but he was expected to inhabit his current role starting in April. However, he struggled during Spring Training, recording a 9.69 ERA and a .327 batting average against in 13 innings.

After four rough starts in the Grapefruit League, the Marlins decided Turner should begin the season at Triple-A New Orleans. Four months later, the decision is paying significant dividends.

In addition to leading the staff in ERA, Turner has recorded five quality starts in six outings, and his 1.10 WHIP ranks second only to Jose Fernandez (1.06) among Marlins starters with at least six starts.

Perhaps Turner's best attribute is his command. He has only 12 walks in six starts, including two or fewer four times and only one each in his past two outings.

"In spring, he was battling his control," Hernandez said. "Right now, his control is there. But more importantly, his stuff has been sharper. It's a little firmer, a little tighter with his breaking balls. Everything is more crisp. That's the beauty of not pushing a kid when he's not ready for it."

Jake Westbrook will toe the rubber against Turner. In an effort to give the right-hander proper preparation for his start, the Cardinals sent him home before Thursday's game in Anaheim instead of having him return to St. Louis late with the team.

Westbrook sports a 2.95 ERA that has ballooned as a result of his recent struggles. He surrendered 10 runs on 14 hits in 10 innings during his past two starts.

He will try to regain the form he enjoyed as he gave up only four runs and recorded five quality starts in his first five outings this season.

Marlins: Ozuna bringing Marlins home
Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a home run in Thursday night's 4-3 win against the Braves. His fourth-inning RBI single helped Ozuna improve his batting average with runners in scoring position to .387 (24-for-62).

The rookie ranks second among Marlins with 29 RBIs in 28 fewer plate appearances than Justin Ruggiano, who leads Miami with 31 RBIs. Ozuna also ranks second among rookies, trailing only Atlanta's Evan Gattis, who has knocked in 37 runs.

Cardinals: Finally back in the nest
The Cards returned home after Thursday night's 6-5 loss to the Angels with some tough traveling behind them.

St. Louis begins a five-game homestand after completing the third of three separate visits to California this season, and its fourth of five three-city road trips.

The Cards will go into the All-Star break having played 50 games away from home, giving them considerable home-field advantage in the National League Central race against the Pirates and the Reds during the second half.

Worth noting
• Miami concluded its recent three-game series against Atlanta with two straight wins after dropping its previous eight games against the Braves. It also marked the Marlins' fourth consecutive series win.

• The last time St. Louis and Miami met, the Marlins won two out of three games on June 14-16, handing the Cardinals their first series loss since late April. St. Louis has either lost or split all but one series since.

• All 12 of Justin Ruggiano's home runs this season have come away from Marlins Park, tying him for the fourth-most consecutive road homers to start a season in MLB history.

• Jon Jay owns the longest active errorless streak in the National League at 227 games. Comments