Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Joshua Palacios, right, and center fielder...

Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Joshua Palacios, right, and center fielder Jack Suwinski celebrate the team's 13-7 win over the Chicago Cubs in a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, in Chicago. Credit: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

CHICAGO — Joshua Palacios hit a three-run homer in a seven-run fourth inning and the Chicago Cubs' postseason drive remained stalled with their sixth loss in seven games, 13-7 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

Connor Joe hit a two-run homer in the sixth as All-Star Justin Steele (16-5) lost his second straight start, allowing six runs and eight hits in three-plus innings.

Chicago (79-73), which has lost nine of 12, remained a half-game ahead of Miami (79-74) for the third NL wild card spot, with Cincinnati (79-75) another half-game back.

Ian Happ's third career grand slam, a drive off Mitch Keller (13-9) in a five-run fifth, cut the deficit to 8-6. Christopher Morel started the inning with his 24th homer, a 440-drive to left that sailed to Waveland Avenue.

Joe, who finished with three hits, homered off Mark Leiter Jr. Jared Triolo added a solo shot for Pittsburgh.

Keller, like Steele a first-time All Star in 2023, yielded seven runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings as the Pirates beat the the Cubs for just the second time in 12 games this season.

Keller struck out six and with 204 became the third Pirates right-hander to reach 200. He is the Pirates winningest pitcher in a season since Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams both had 14 victories in 2018.

Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Joshua Palacios, right, center fielder Jack...

Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Joshua Palacios, right, center fielder Jack Suwinski, center, and left fielder Bryan Reynolds celebrate the team's 13-7 win over the Chicago Cubs in a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, in Chicago. Credit: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

Four relievers allowed three hits in 3 1/3 scoreless innings.,

STRO’ READY TO GO

Cubs All-Star RHP Marcus Stroman said before the game he’ll gladly accept any bullpen role down the stretch.

Stroman was activated Sept. 15 after six weeks on the IL, then made a pair of scoreless relief appearances against Arizona. Those were his first bullpen outings since 2014 as a rookie with Toronto.

Pittsburgh Pirates' Henry Davis hits a two-run single off Chicago...

Pittsburgh Pirates' Henry Davis hits a two-run single off Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, in Chicago. Credit: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

Stroman was 10-8 through 25 starts with the when he went on the IL with hip inflammation on Aug. 2. He was diagnosed with a right rib cartilage fracture on Aug. 16.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: RHP Nick Burdi (appendectomy) pitched an inning and allowed a run in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. … RHP Brandon Hughes (right knee inflammation) tossed a scoreless inning at Iowa on Tuesday night.

UP NEXT

Pirates RHP Johan Oviedo (8-14, 4.27) faces Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-7, 3.77) on Thursday in the series finale.

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