Bucs turn first triple play in PNC Park history

Harrison, Walker and Lambo give team first 5-4-3 triple play since 1979

Bucs turn first triple play in PNC Park history

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates turned the first triple play in 14 seasons at PNC Park on Sunday in the fourth inning of their 7-3 victory over the Cubs.

After Chris Valaika led off with a double and Bucs right-hander Edinson Volquez walked Mike Olt, the triple play was as routine as it could be. Matt Szczur smashed a grounder to third baseman Josh Harrison, who stepped on the bag and fired to second to Neil Walker, whose relay to first baseman Andrew Lambo tripled up Szczur.

Asked his first thought as the ball was coming off Szczur's bat, Harrison said, "Triple play. It was hit hard enough, to my right [to carry me toward the bag] ... one step. I knew I had a shot, but I also knew the guy was fast."

In fact, Szczur is about the fastest guy the Cubs have, which made the play even more impressive.

"It was the fastest guy we have," confirmed Cubs manager Rick Renteria. "He hit it right on the nose, and Harrison made a really nice play. ... That's instinctual. He was very composed, stepped on the bag, threw to second, threw to first, and they got ultimately one of our faster guys in the triple play."

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

"It's something I've never been a part of on any level, so that was pretty cool," said Walker, the middleman. "Yeah, soon as I see Josh backing into the base with the ball, I knew it was a perfect scenario for that type of triple play."

Draped over the railing of the Pirates' third-base dugout, manager Clint Hurdle's mind instantly dialed up "three."

"Absolutely," Hurdle said. "I wanted to follow it around the horn, and see where it went. Very quick first step by J, nice tag [of the bag to push off], excellent throw, and Walker on the turn to finish it. That's when it's nice to be the first baseman; you do the least amount of work, and you throw your name in there."

Lambo, who is normally an outfielder, was playing his first Major League game at first base.

"All I did was finish the play," said Lambo, wearing a wide grin. "I grab the ball and run off thinking, 'Hey, we just turned a triple play.'"

It was the Pirates' first around-the-horn triple play since July 23, 1979, when Bill Madlock, Phil Garner and Willie Stargell turned one on Braves Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro in the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader. Niekro did, however, go on to toss a two-hit shutout that day.

While the Pirates' most recent triple play had come on April 12, 2009, in Cincinnati, they had not turned one at home since Aug. 10, 1993, at Three Rivers Stadium against the Cardinals.

It was the first triple play bounced into by the Cubs since May 14, 2000, when Henry Rodriguez grounded into one in Montreal.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.