They’ve made up a lot of ground in the Midwest League West standings during their recent hot streak, but despite how well they’ve played, the Clinton LumberKings just can’t quite catch the leaders. After beating Kane County 6-1 on Sunday night, the LumberKings were denied a four-game road sweep Monday afternoon at Elfstrom Stadium when the Cougars won a rain-delayed contest 7-4. The loss — just the third for Clinton in the past 17 games — dropped the third-place LumberKings 31⁄2 games behind Cedar Rapids in the standings and 11⁄2 games behind second-place Quad Cities, as both of those teams won their third consecutive games Monday. The LumberKings (30-22) will try to keep their winning ways going when they head to Bowling Green, Ky., for their first-ever meeting with the Hot Rods (20-30). They open a three-game series at 7:05 tonight. Right-hander Tyler Blandford (1-2, 3.67 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season for Clinton. A 1-hour, 7-minute rain delay after the first inning cost both teams their starters Monday, when the Cougars scored single runs in each of the first three innings to build a lead they never lost. When play resumed, the LumberKings tied the score at 1-1 on an RBI fielder’s choice by Welington Dotel, allowing Hawkins Gebbers to score. That tie was short-lived, though, as Myrio Richard doubled home Conner Crumbliss in the bottom of the second inning, and Max Stassi (3-for-3) belted a solo home run to right-center to put the Cougars ahead 3-1 in the third. The Cougars extended their lead to 4-1 on a solo home run by Mike Gilmartin in the sixth, but the LumberKings got back to within a run in the top of the seventh. Facing right-hander Jose Pina, Dotel doubled off the top of the wall in left and scored on a ringing single to center by Steven Baron. After the Cougars defense turned a double play, Nick Franklin (3-for-4) homered to the pavilion in right — his ninth home run of the season — to make it a 4-3 game. Later, Kalian Sams batted with two on and two out against Pina, but he struck out. Sams finished 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Kane County added three insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 7-3 lead. A home run by Gebbers off the scoreboard in left made it 7-4, but that was as close as Clinton got. Jose Jimenez (1-3) who pitched 31⁄3 innings in relief of Jimmy Gillheeney took the loss. He allowed two runs on four hits. The win went to right-hander Jose Guzman (3-1). Although Sams struggled Monday, his three-run home run in the first inning Sunday night was more than enough for Clinton pitchers John Housey and Brian Moran in a 6-1 victory. Sams stepped to the plate with Nick Franklin and James Jones aboard and one out in the first. He launched a Rob Gilliam offering deep over the center-field fence just to the left of the batter’s eye for his team-leading 12th homer of the year. Gilliam (3-4) kept the Kings off the board until Jones’s homered in the fifth with Franklin again on base. Housey (4-0) scattered three hits and three walks over six innings and struck out four, throwing 86 pitches in his first starting role this season. He was helped by the middle of the defense as the Franklin-Gabriel Noriega-Vinnie Catricala combination turned three double plays behind him. A Brandon Bantz RBI single in the eighth scored Tim Morris for a 6-0 lead. Moran pitched the final three innings, losing the shutout when Juan Nunez doubled and scored on a single by Crumbliss in the eighth. Bantz and Matt Cerione each went 3-for-4 to lead the 12-hit attack. Sams’ homer raised his team-leading RBI total to 34.