CHICAGO (AP) – Slugger Kris Bryant exited with a bruised left wrist, Mike Montgomery got hit hard over four-plus innings and the Chicago Cubs stumbled again in their playoff run with a 6-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
The Cubs missed a chance to clinch a franchise-record fourth straight trip to the postseason for the second time in as many nights. And their lead in the NL Central over Milwaukee shrunk to a half game, with the Brewers beating St. Louis 12-4.
Chicago needed a win plus a loss by Colorado to Philadelphia to secure a playoff spot and extend a run that includes a drought-ending World Series championship in 2016. But the Cubs lost for the fourth time in sixth games while the Rockies won 10-3.
Bryant got struck by a pitch from Chris Archer (3-3) in the fourth inning and was replaced at third base in the sixth by Ian Happ, who had pinch hit in the fifth.
Montgomery (5-6) gave up five runs and seven hits, and the Cubs got shut out for the 11th time this season.
Archer struck out nine and walked two while pitching four-hit ball over six innings.
Rookie Pablo Reyes homered for the second straight game, a three-run drive in the second. Francisco Cervelli drove in two runs, and Pittsburgh won for the eighth time in 10 games.
The Cubs managed just five hits and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position while stranding seven runners.
Chicago got shut down this time after managing just one run – all on homers – in each of their previous five meetings with the Pirates. That was a first for Major League Baseball, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Pirates: CF Starling Marte (left calf) was back in the lineup after sitting out Monday’s game.
Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said RHP Pedro Strop (strained left hamstring) is “trending in the right direction,” though he wasn’t sure what the next step would be after the reliever played catch on Monday. “He keeps telling me how great he feels,” Maddon said. Strop has been sidelined since Sept. 13, when he was hurt running to first on a double-play grounder at Washington.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (9-9, 4.01 ERA) has allowed two runs in 16 1/3 innings over his past three starts
Cubs: LHP José Quintana (13-11, 4.11) tries to shake off a loss to the Chicago White Sox. He got tagged for five runs in five innings by his former team after giving up two runs or less in six straight starts.