After triple Cub trouble, Pirates’ volatile season lurches into final month

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Andrew McCutchen strikes out in the fifth inning, leaving the bases loaded. - GETTY

CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field and Miller Park are 90 miles apart, the shortest distance between two Major League Baseball stadiums that aren't in the same metro area.

But when the Pirates made the short drive down Interstate 94 on Sunday night, they entered a whole new world of competition ... and frustration.

For the second time in three nights, two teams separated by quite a distance in the Central played a game decided by the smallest margin. For the third time in three nights, the Cubs prevailed.

This time it was 6-5, as a four-run margin shrunk to one against a Chicago bullpen that remains the best team in baseball's closest thing to a weak spot. After Aroldis Chapman finished off Jordy Mercer on the 11th pitch of the final at-bat of the game -- the 31st offering of a shaky ninth for the Cubs' shiny new closer -- reality set in.