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Bruntlett ends Phils win with solo triple play

Eric Bruntlett was running to cover second base when the liner found his glove for the first out. His momentum carried him right onto the bag. Two outs. Then a quick turn to tag Daniel Murphy as he tried to dance out of the way. That's three outs.
/ Source: PhillyBurbs.com

Eric Bruntlett was running to cover second base when the liner found his glove for the first out. His momentum carried him right onto the bag. Two outs. Then a quick turn to tag Daniel Murphy as he tried to dance out of the way. That's three outs.An unassisted triple play!And get this: it ended the game.In an instant, the second baseman became the second player in major league history to have a game-ending unassisted triple play, preserving the Philadelphia Phillies' 9-7 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday."I didn't know how to react. I didn't know what to do," Bruntlett said. "The ninth inning was wild. The whole game it seemed was strange."Bruntlett completed the 15th unassisted triple play in big league history. Detroit Tigers first baseman Johnny Neun also ended a game with the play, on May 31, 1927, finishing off a 1-0 victory over Cleveland, according to STATS LLC.The amazing final sequence made a winner of Pedro Martinez in his return to New York and quashed a Mets rally against closer Brad Lidge."What a bizarre ending. I don't know what happened there," Lidge said. "That was pretty exciting. That's definitely not the way you draw it up."The Mets opened the ninth inning by scoring a run on consecutive errors by Ryan Howard and Bruntlett. Murphy then hit a grounder up the middle that a sliding Bruntlett couldn't handle to put runners on first and second, a play ruled an infield hit.The Citi Field crowd was rumbling with excitement at the prospect of knocking off their NL East rival after falling behind 6-0 in the first.And then it wasn't.Mets manager Jerry Manuel sent the runners on a 2-2 pitch and Bruntlett broke toward second. Just as he was reaching the bag, Jeff Francouer laced a line drive _ the hardest-hit ball of the inning _ right at Bruntlett, who was starting at second Sunday so All-Star Chase Utley could rest."We were trying to push the envelope to get back into the game," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of the double steal with none out.Bruntlett caught the ball at about shoulder height and, without altering his stride, stepped on the bag.Shortstop Jimmy Rollins pointed toward Murphy, steps from second. He then pointed again as Bruntlett played a little cat-and-mouse with Murphy, who kept hop-stepping toward the outfield grass to avoid the inevitable tag. Bruntlett ended it by touching his glove to the Mets logo on Murphy's chest.Bruntlett turned toward umpire Rob Drake and raised his glove hand. Drake nodded his head, indicating "you got it," and pumped his clenched fist, pointed to first and pumped his fist again: triple play.How's that for redemption?"It was huge, especially because I was a part of the reason we got into such a bad spot there in the ninth," Bruntlett said.Another Phillies second baseman, Mickey Morandini, turned an unassisted triple play in 1992.The crowd stood stunned _ save for the ample red-hatted Phillies fans in the crowd of 39,038 _ as Bruntlett seemed to high-five everyone around him, a big, goofy grin on his face the entire time."Frenchy hit it on the screws," Murphy said. "It happened so fast there was nothing I could do."It was the first unassisted triple play since Cleveland second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera turned one in the fifth inning on May 12, 2008, against Toronto."It's luck. It's luck. It involves no skill. You just have to be in the right place at the right time," Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki said in Denver. The Rockies shortstop turned the trick in 2007.Of the 15 unassisted triple plays in big league history, all but one came during the regular season. Cleveland second baseman Bill Wambsganss accomplished the feat in the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn.By comparison, there have been 18 perfect games after 1900.After bolting out of the box, a frustrated Francoeur stopped in his tracks, threw down his helmet, took several more steps and stood there with his hands on his hips. Francouer then spent several minutes alone in the dugout.It was the first time the Mets were involved in such a play."Even with the runners going I did not expect him to be there. The only place he could catch the ball was where he was," Francoeur said. "To end the way it did was a little disheartening."