A few weeks ago, Mike Montgomery was sitting in the bullpen, biding his time for a chance to start for the Cubs.
Although Jon Lester is the ace of the staff, Montgomery has vaulted himself into a position of being the second-best starter on the team.
And he has more than stated his case for a permanent spot in the rotation.
The Cubs needed Montgomery to go deep Tuesday night in the second game of a day-night doubleheader at Wrigley Field after a tough 4-3 loss in the afternoon.
Montgomery gave the Cubs 6 innings of 1-run ball and left trailing 1-0 until Kyle Schwarber's game-tying homer in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Kris Bryant opened the bottom of the 10th inning with a triple to right field off Brock Stewart. Javier Baez was intentionally walked. Albert Almora Jr. singled to right, scoring Bryant and giving the Cubs a 2-1 win and a split.
In 5 starts since replacing the injured Yu Darvish in the rotation on May 28, Montgomery has a 1.21 ERA. Darvish is still a ways from returning, but when he does come off the disabled list the Cubs will have an interesting decision to make.
"He's pitching really well," said manager Joe Maddon, whose team is 41-29. "We'll wait until everybody's well, and we'll make our decision. The other thing about Monty to understand is how many innings has he pitched historically? And you've got to be careful with that, too.
"It's a big-picture thing. You wait, you wait, you wait and make your best call. I just want him to continue to make start after start like this. Keep pitching like you want to remain in the rotation. It's a beautiful thing."
Players often say such decisions are out of their hands, but Montgomery is using his left hand to tighten a grip on a permanent spot.
"I pitch well, good things happen," he said. "I've always thought that. Opportunities, you've just got to make the most of them. With this team, we've got a lot of good players. I'm just going to stick to throwing the ball well and staying in my routine and then take it for that."
The doubleheader provided a good juxtaposition. Tyler Chatwood started in Game 1, and he threw 101 pitches in his 5 innings, walking five. In 68 innings pitched this season, Chatwood has walked 63.
"I felt good," he said. "Anytime you can keep your team in the game and leave with a lead, you've been successful. Obviously you want to go deeper in the game, but for the most part I feel like I did all right.
"Just try to get quicker outs. There's been a lot of deep counts. Just try to get quicker outs, I guess. Like I said three starts ago, it might not have been pretty, but I felt good. Same thing today. I was able to mix up a little more, and I think its something to build on."
The Dodgers got a run in the first when Joc Pederson led off with a home run to right field. The Cubs went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the second on a bases-loaded 2-run double by Bryant against Kenta Maeda. They added a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo.
With closer Brandon Morrow unavailable because of back spasms, Maddon juggled his bullpen, going with Steve Cishek, Randy Rosario and Pedro Strop before turning to Justin Wilson in the ninth.
The Dodgers made it a 3-2 game in the sixth. Chris Taylor tripled with one out. Yasiel Puig's popup to center then fell among several Cubs for an RBI double.
Wilson gave up a leadoff walk in the ninth, and a one-out single by Justin Turner put runners on first and second. Yasmani Grandal was called out on strikes and ejected for arguing with plate umpire Tripp Gibson.
Pinch hitter Kyle Farmer then doubled down the left-field line to score both runners.
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