Monday, September 15, 2014
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Triple play helps Pirates rally to beat Cubs

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[September 15, 2014]  PITTSBURGH -- Neal Walker was part of two historical moments Sunday afternoon then smiled when asked which was bigger.

"Regardless, it was a pretty cool day," the Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman said.

Walker had a home run and double among his three hits and was the pivot man on an around-the-horn triple play as the Pirates rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Walker's solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning started the Pirates' comeback from a 3-0 deficit and was his 20th of the season, setting a franchise record for a second baseman. His double drove in a run during a six-run fifth inning in which the Pittsburgh sent 12 batters to the plate and went ahead 7-3.

The Pirates (79-70) turned their first triple play since 2009 -- and their first in Pittsburgh since 1993 -- in the top of the fourth when speedy rookie right fielder Matt Szczur hit a hard ground ball to third baseman Josh Harrison.

"I knew I had a shot because it had me going toward the bag and I only had to take one step to the bag," Harrison said. "I was thinking double play for sure."

Harrison stepped on third base to force Matt Valakia, then threw to second to force Mike Olt. Walker completed the triple play with a throw to first baseman Andrew Lambo that beat Szczur by a step.

"The triple play was something I've never been involved with," Walker said. "I haven't thought about the home run record. I'm just humbled by it."

The Pirates won for the eighth time in their last 10 games. They remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League wild card and 3 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

"It was a heckuva play by Harrison," Szczur said. "I was looking for a good pitch to hit, something to hit hard and it was probably the wrong time to hit the ball hard."

Pirates starter Edinson Volquez (12-7, 3.27 ERA) settled down after the triple play and improved his career record to 7-0 against the Cubs. Volquez, who is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his last 10 starts, gave up three runs (one earned) and four hits in seven innings with five walks and five strikeouts.

Left-hander Tony Watson and closer Mark Melancon each pitched one scoreless inning to finish the four-hitter.

"It was a little tough to get the loose the first two or three innings but then I was able to shut it down after the triple play," Volquez said.

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Harrison raised his NL-leading batting average to .317 by going 2-for-5 with a two-run double in the fifth that tied the game at 3 and sparked the big inning.

Harrison scored the go-ahead run on left fielder Travis Snider's double then Walker hit his double, pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez hit an RBI single and rookie right fielder Gregory Polanco drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth and final run of the inning, giving the Pirates a 7-3 lead.

Polanco also had two hits.

Right-hander Jacob Turner (5-10) was rocked for seven runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings and fell to 1-3 with a 7.97 ERA in four starts for the Cubs since being acquired from the Miami Marlins in a trade.

Turner also walked three and only had one strikeout as Chicago (65-84) lost for the eighth time in their last nine games overall and for the 13th time in their last 17 games at PNC Park.

The Cubs scored twice in the second on a throwing error by Volquez and a sacrifice fly by catcher John Baker then made it 3-0 in the third on sacrifice fly by left fielder Chris Coghlan.

NOTES: Pirates RHP Charlie Morton will replace RHP Vance Worley in the rotation and start Tuesday night against the visiting Boston Red Sox in the opener of a three-game eries. Morton (5-12, 3.40 ERA) has been sidelined by right hip inflammation since Aug. 16 and is expected to have surgery to repair a sports hernia at the end of the season. He will face Red Sox RHP Anthony Ranaudo (3-2, 5.40). ... The Pirates won the season series, 14-5. ... Chicago C Welington Castillo got the day off after starting seven straight games and 10 of the last 11. ... The Cubs open a three-game series Monday night at home against Cincinnati with LHP Travis Wood (8-12, 5.03) pitching for Chicago against Reds RHP Alfredo Simon (14-10, 3.48).

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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