CINCINNATI -- Mike Montgomery, who has been a starter in waiting, gave the Cubs what they needed on Wednesday night.Montgomery, inserted into the rotation when Jonathan Lester went on the disabled list, worked six strong innings in a 9-3 win over the Reds as the Cubs widened their National League
CINCINNATI -- Mike Montgomery, who has been a starter in waiting, gave the Cubs what they needed on Wednesday night.
Montgomery, inserted into the rotation when Jonathan Lester went on the disabled list, worked six strong innings in a 9-3 win over the Reds as the Cubs widened their National League Central lead to a season-high 3 1/2 games over the Brewers.
"From Day One, they have been telling me they like me as a starter," Montgomery said.
Although 27 of his 36 appearances this season have come out of the bullpen, the 28-year-old left-hander is demonstrating the ability to be successful in any role.
"He's very capable of doing something like that," manager Joe Maddon said of Wednesday's performance. "He had good fastball command, he forced the hitters to put his pitch into play."
Montgomery retired 10 of the last 11 he faced.
That string started in the third inning, when the Reds, trailing 4-0, appeared to be putting together a rally. Joey Votto came to the plate with one out and runners at first and second. Votto sent a ground ball toward shortstop Javier Baez, who backhanded the ball and flipped it to second baseman Benjamin Zobrist to begin the inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
"That was unbelievable," Montgomery said. "It was such a boost. It gives you extra confidence."
Montgomery struck out four and walked one, forcing 11 ground-ball outs and throwing 53 of 89 pitches for strikes.
"He's supposed to throw strikes, and he did," Maddon said.
The Cubs' offense picked up Montgomery by jumping on Reds starter Asher Wojciechowski for three first-inning runs, then chasing him in a five-run fourth.
"It helps when you get a three-run lead before you even go out there," Montgomery said.
Montgomery hadn't started a game since July 19, when he limited the Braves to one run over six innings.
Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.