Jameson Taillon outpitched Cole Hamels, Francisco Cervelli hit a two-run homer and the Pittsburgh Pirates made the Chicago Cubs wait at least another day to clinch a postseason spot with a 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. Closing in on a third straight NL Central title, the Cubs began the night with a 2½-game lead over second-place Milwaukee, then lost for the third time in five games.
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.
Hamels (4-2) hit his second career homer 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.
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 and a solo homer in the ninth against Brian Duensing. A day after they were eliminated, the Pirates won for the seventh time in nine games.
Up next for the 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.