CHICAGO — Jeff Locke, Francisco Cervelli and Josh Harrison gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a chance. Miguel Montero finished them off.
Harrison hit a sacrifice fly in the 13th inning, but the Chicago Cubs got to Locke for two runs in the bottom half and won 8-7 on Montero’s game-ending RBI single Monday night.
Harrison had three hits and three RBIs for the Pirates, who had won eight straight road games. Gregory Polanco and Josh Bell hit opposite-field homers against Jake Arrieta, but Pittsburgh dropped to 62-1 this year when leading after eight innings.
“Nothing to hang our heads about,” Harrison said. “We went out there and gave it everything we had. We got contributions from a lot of different people. We just came up short.”
Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo set the stage for Montero’s clutch swing with consecutive singles against Locke (9-8), plating the tying run. After Ben Zobrist was walked intentionally, Montero dumped a 1-2 pitch into left for a big pinch-hit single.
“It’s a winning team, winning attitude,” Montero said. “That’s (what) it’s all about. We never quit. We know we can come back anytime. We’ve done it all season long, and we did it again today.”
Locke pitched three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the 13th. He was helped by two great defensive plays by Cervelli, who tagged Javier Baez out at home to end the 10th and 12th innings.
“You know nobody is coming in behind you, so you’ve just got to bear down and make pitches the best you can,” Locke said. “We didn’t get the end result we were looking for, but there’s no shying away from the challenge.”
The major league-leading Cubs (83-47) dropped two of three in Los Angeles over the weekend, and then their flight to Chicago was delayed. They arrived early Monday morning, and still had enough in reserve to outlast the scrappy Pirates.
Rob Zastryzny (1-0) got his first major league win. Jorge Soler and Willson Contreras homered for the Cubs, and Baez collected four hits.
“They had to be tired today, but nevertheless played ’til post-midnight with energy,” manager Joe Maddon said, “and I love it.”
Pittsburgh, which fell 1 1/2 games back of St. Louis for the second NL wild card, had a 6-3 lead after seven innings. But Contreras belted a two-run shot to center against Neftali Feliz in the eighth and Soler connected for a tying solo shot in the ninth against closer Tony Watson.
Bell’s one-out shot to left in the fourth was Pittsburgh’s first hit of the game. With two outs and runners on first and second in the sixth, Polanco drove Arrieta’s first pitch over the wall in left for a 4-3 Pittsburgh lead.
Polanco also hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth inning of the Pirates’ 3-1 win at Milwaukee on Sunday. He was batting just .138 (4 for 29) against Arrieta before his team-best 21st homer.
Arrieta was charged with six runs — matching a season high, also against Pittsburgh on July 8 — and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. The ace right-hander went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his first four August starts, recalling his dominant second-half run to the NL Cy Young Award a year ago.
“I didn’t pitch as well as I would have liked,” he said. “Obviously the two homers were kind of the dagger for me.”
Pittsburgh left-hander Steven Brault allowed three runs, two earned, and five hits in four innings after being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis. He replaced Gerrit Cole in the rotation after the ace went on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation.
Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (shoulder) was activated from the 15-day DL and optioned to Indianapolis, where he will make at least one start before the Triple-A season ends next week.
Cubs: RHP Pedro Strop (left meniscus tear) is throwing again, and RHP Hector Rondon (right triceps strain) also is “making great progress,” according to Maddon.
Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (12-7, 2.19 ERA) and Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (3-1, 3.50 ERA) get the ball for the second game of the series on Tuesday night. Hendricks is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in five August starts. Kuhl allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision in his previous start Thursday at Milwaukee.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap