PITTSBURGH (AP) – A triple play helped the Pittsburgh Pirates maintain their 1 1/2-game lead for the NL’s second wild card.
Josh Harrison started Pittsburgh’s first triple play at home in 21 years and hit a tying two-run double in a six-run fifth inning Sunday as the Pirates rallied past the Chicago Cubs 7-3.
“It was fun,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You’ve got to pour some fun on everything you do, and we had more fun after the triple play.”
Edinson Volquez (12-7) improved to 4-0 in his last 10 starts for the Pirates, who have won eight of their last 10 games. Milwaukee kept pace with a 9-2 victory over Cincinnati.
“You could feel the tide turn when we had the triple play,” Harrison said. “You don’t want to take the approach of trying to get them all back at once, but you definitely want to take advantage of the momentum.”
Pittsburgh improved to 14-5 against Chicago this year, winning all six series, and eliminated the Cubs from playoff contention. Chicago has not won the World Series since 1908 and hasn’t even reached the postseason since 2008.
Chicago led 3-0 and put runners on first and second in the fourth when Matt Szczur grounded to third. Harrison started an around-the-horn 5-4-3 triple play, throwing to second baseman Neil Walker, who relayed to first baseman Andrew Lambo.
“You don’t see it very often,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. “He hit it right on the nose, and Harrison made a really nice play because he ended up catching it going away from him, stayed with it and it took him right to the bag.”
Pittsburgh had not turned a triple play since April 12, 2009, against Cincinnati’s Edwin Encarnacion by left fielder Jack Wilson, second baseman Freddy Sanchez and first baseman Adam LaRoche. The Pirates had not accomplished the feat at home since Aug. 10, 1993, at Three Rivers Stadium against St. Louis by shortstop Jay Bell, second baseman Carlos Garcia and first baseman Kevin Young, who doubled up future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
Volquez allowed three runs – one earned – four hits and five walks in seven innings. He has his most victories in a year since winning 17 for Cincinnati in 2008.
“I battled the whole way until we got the triple play,” Volquez said. “It was a little tough to get loose the first two or three innings, but then I was able to shut it down after the triple play.”
Jacob Turner (5-10) gave up seven runs, seven hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings.
Chicago went ahead in the second on a run-scoring throwing error by Volquez and John Baker’s sacrifice fly, then made it 3-0 in the third on Chris Coghlan’s sacrifice fly after catcher Russell Martin’s throwing error on Javier Baez’s steal of second.
Walker hit his 20th homer in the fourth. After Harrison’s double, Travis Snider and Walker hit RBI doubles, and Gaby Sanchez and Gregory Polanco added run-scoring singles.
Pittsburgh OF Starling Marte played for the first time since he was removed Thursday with left elbow discomfort. He entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth. … Chicago 1B Anthony Rizzo (lower back strain) and SS Starlin Castro (left ankle sprain) didn’t play. Rizzo is expected to return Monday while Castro hasn’t played since Sept. 2.
Cubs: Chicago hosts Cincinnati in a three-game series, with LHP Travis Wood (8-12) opposing Reds RHP Alfredo Simon (14-10).
Pirates: Pittsburgh continues its final homestand of the regular season with three game games Boston.
RHP Charlie Morton is set to start for the Pirates on Tuesday. Morton was placed on the 15-day DL on Aug. 17 with right hip inflammation, two days after he lasted three innings against Washington. RHP Anthony Ranaudo is slated for Boston (3-2).
PRIDE OF PITTSBURGH
Walker, a native of nearby Gibsonia, set a Pirates record for home runs by a second baseman with one more than Bill Mazeroski hit in 1958.