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CHICAGO – For whatever reason, the Pirates sure like holding the Cubs to solo homers. They’ve done it the last four times they played prior to Monday night.

Somehow the Cubs managed to use a pair of outstanding pitching performances to grab a pair of games in Pittsburgh in mid-August to earn a split of the series. Surely it wouldn’t happen again, right?

We’ll not only did this take place again, but the person hitting it was the most unlikely to do so on the field. Unfortunately he wasn’t as sharp in his main role for the Cubs Monday night at Wrigley Field as the Cubs lost some ground in their race for an NL Central title.

Cole Hamels smacked his first homer since the 2012 season in the third inning, but he allowed two runs in the first along with an unearned tally in the sixth that were too much in another quiet night for the home team’s bats. Incredibly the Cubs managed to hit just a solo homer for a fifth-straight game in a 5-1 loss to the Pirates.

Coupled with Brewers’ victory over the Cardinals, the Cubs lead in the division is down 1 1/2 games, with both teams meeting the same opponent tomorrow night.

Perhaps then Joe Maddon’s club can figure out what it will take to break through against Pirates’ pitching. The scattered seven hits over nine innings but could only muster a run when Hamels went deep, stranding eight runners on the evening.

As for the lefty starter, who won one of those solo homer games in Pittsburgh on August 17th, the going wasn’t so easy. Francisco Cervelli belted a two-run homer down the left field line in the first inning to put the Pirates ahead for good. Pittsburgh added another on Hamels in the sixth on a Jose Osuna double, which was unearned thanks to an error by Kris Bryant on the throw to first on a hit by Cervelli, who would later score.

Pablo Reyes brought in a run on a double in the seventh the another in the ninth on a solo homer to end a quiet night for the Cubs as the Brewers’ footsteps in the division get a little louder.