Taillon outpitches Hamels, Pirates beat Cubs 5-1
CHICAGO (AP) — Cole Hamels gave the Chicago Cubs something to celebrate when he hit his second career home run.
They'll have to wait at least another day for a playoff party.
Jameson Taillon outpitched Hamels, Francisco Cervelli hit a two-run homer and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cubs 5-1 victory on Monday night.
The Cubs needed a win plus a loss by Colorado to Philadelphia to assure a franchise-record fourth straight trip to the playoffs, a run that includes a drought-busting World Series championship in 2016. Instead, they lost for the third time in five games, and the Rockies defeated the Phillies 10-1.
Seeking its third straight NL Central championship, Chicago saw its lead over second-place Milwaukee shrink to 1 1/2 games when the Brewers beat the Cardinals 6-4.
Hamels (4-2) had the fans and the dugout rocking when he connected leading off the third inning. But he lost his second straight start after going 4-0 in his first nine following a trade from Texas. The left-hander gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits in six innings.
"Anytime, I guess, you hit a home run it's pretty exciting," Hamels said. "It feels better when you win. You really have to give it to Taillon. He came after us and threw the ball really well. I just was able to get a pitch that I could hit in the count."
Hamels' drive to center on a 3-1 pitch sure was impressive, though.
"I think him and (Jon) Lester, mechanically, have really good swings," manager Joe Maddon said. "They have very good mechanics. And he timed it perfectly and got it all."
Taillon (14-9) gave up one run and five hits in seven innings, improving to 5-0 in his past seven starts. The right-hander has not allowed more than three earned runs in his past 21 outings.
"It's one of the best runs I've seen a starting pitcher have in my coaching experience," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He must be a master craftsman, he's making pitches, studying swings, in-game adjustments, following the catcher."
Cervelli hit a two-run homer in the first after missing the previous two games because of gastrointestinal discomfort. He also reached on an infield single in the sixth and scored on Jose Osuna's second double.
Pablo Reyes added an RBI single in the seventh against Steve Cishek and a solo homer in the ninth off Brian Duensing. A day after they were eliminated, the Pirates won for the seventh time in nine games.
Hamels' only other homer was in a home game for Philadelphia against San Francisco's Matt Cain on July 21, 2012. It was also the second homer by a Cubs pitcher this season. Lester connected against Minnesota on July 1.
Pirates: CF Starling Marte (left calf) was out of the lineup after leaving Pittsburgh's loss to Milwaukee on Sunday.
Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant was back in the lineup after being held out of Sunday's win over the crosstown White Sox because of fatigue in his left shoulder. The 2016 NL MVP was on the disabled list from July 26 to Sept. 1 with left shoulder inflammation and missed time earlier in the season because of the same issue. ... RHP Pedro Strop (strained left hamstring) played catch. The reliever hopes to pitch in a game prior to the playoffs after being sidelined since Sept. 13, when he was hurt running to first on a double-play grounder at Washington.
Pirates: RHP Chris Archer (5-8, 4.49 ERA), coming off a 2-1 win over Kansas City last week, has a 3.38 ERA in four starts this month after posting a 6.45 ERA in his first nine outings with Pittsburgh following a trade from Tampa Bay.
Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (5-5, 3.75) looks to win his second straight start after throwing six solid innings at Arizona last week. He has won all three career starts against the Pirates and is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in nine outings against them.
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