Furcal turns 12th unassisted triple play ever

ST. LOUIS -- Rafael Furcal wasn't expecting to make one of
the rarest plays in baseball. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox could see
it unfolding.

Furcal, Atlanta's shortstop, became the 12th player in major
league history to turn an unassisted triple play when he
single-handedly snuffed out a fifth inning rally by the St. Louis
Cardinals in their 3-2 win over the Braves on Sunday night.

"I didn't know right away," Furcal said. "I wasn't thinking
of trying to get three outs by myself, I was just trying to get

With runners on first and second, Furcal made a leaping grab of
pitcher Woody Williams' liner. The runners were going on a 1-1
pitch, and Furcal stepped on second base to double up Mike Matheny
before tagging out Orlando Palmeiro as he made a futile attempt to
scamper back to first.

"You could see it developing, just like that," Cox said.
Both runners were going and obviously it's going to be a triple
play if somebody catches it."

Williams is one of the best hitting pitchers in the majors, with
a .250 batting average and seven RBI, which is why manager Tony La
Russa gave him the green light to hit.

"I thought everything was working," La Russa said. "It was
the third pitch Woody had seen and he handles the bat great.

"That's one of the risks, a ball on a line in the infield."

The Cardinals were able to overcome the rare accomplishment.

They rallied on back-to-back eighth-inning home runs from
Eduardo Perez and Albert Pujols. Pujols connected against John Smoltz, the major league leader in saves with a 0.94 ERA.

"Anytime you get a big hit against a guy like John Smoltz, you
need to feel happy about it," Pujols said. "You're talking about
the best guy in the league. Both of the leagues."

Furcal's was the first unassisted triple play in the majors
since Oakland second baseman Randy Velarde did it against the New
York Yankees on May 29, 2000.

Matheny singled to start the fifth and Palmeiro reached when
Ramirez threw late to second on his sacrifice bunt. Williams tried
to bunt earlier in the at-bat, but was allowed to swing away.

The Cardinals have hit into two triple plays this season, also
doing it April 10 at Colorado.

One of the 12 unassisted triple plays in the modern era (since
1900) came in the 1920 World Series, when Indians second baseman
Bill Wambsganss did it in the fifth inning of Game 5 against