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Rizzo, Baez homer, but Montgomery toils in loss

With Cubs' rotation in flux, lefty allows 12 hits over 5 IP in 11th start
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs have to make some decisions regarding their rotation now that they've added Cole Hamels. Mike Montgomery had to state his case on Friday night to keep starting.

Montgomery, who has been subbing for injured Yu Darvish, scattered 12 hits over five innings, including an RBI triple and a two-run single by Paul DeJong, in the Cubs' 5-2 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs have to make some decisions regarding their rotation now that they've added Cole Hamels. Mike Montgomery had to state his case on Friday night to keep starting.

Montgomery, who has been subbing for injured Yu Darvish, scattered 12 hits over five innings, including an RBI triple and a two-run single by Paul DeJong, in the Cubs' 5-2 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

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"Days like this happen in baseball," Montgomery said. "I feel there were five or six hits, and as soon as they hit them, I thought they'd be an out. You just move on."

Anthony Rizzo hit his second home run in as many games, and Javier Baez notched his 20th of the season -- and recorded his 75th RBI -- for the Cubs, who dropped to 6-8 this season against the Cardinals.

Video: CHC@STL: Baez jacks his 20th homer of the year

Manager Joe Maddon had expected more from his team after the Cubs' walk-off win on Thursday against the D-backs.

"In spite of what happened [Thursday], I didn't see the real bump I was looking for today," Maddon said. "We just didn't square the ball up against [starter Luke Weaver]. Maybe his command was better. I'm watching from the side, and nothing was happening really good or awful, both sides. It was just a vanilla kind of game that we didn't win."

Video: CHC@STL: Maddon on Montgomery's outing in 5-2 loss

This was Montgomery's 11th start, and he's now totaled 87 innings. One of the Cubs' concerns is whether the lefty can handle a starter's workload. He'd been used as a swingman the two previous seasons. Will Montgomery be the odd man out? All Maddon would confirm is that the Cubs will employ a five-man rotation. He just wouldn't say which five.

"I don't want to worry about that," Montgomery said of his innings. "I have to worry about making sure my mechanics are good, making sure I'm making good pitches. I feel good physically. We have another eight or nine weeks for the rest of the season. I want to pitch, I want to get out there, I want to throw innings. I want to be involved. From an innings standpoint, I'll make sure I'm physically ready to throw as many innings as I need to."

Video: CHC@STL: Montgomery dives, tosses underhand for out

What's encouraging to Montgomery is that he sees the results of some of the things he's been working on. He had faced the Cardinals in his previous start and gave up one run over six innings.

"They're a good team," Montgomery said. "They had a good approach. I think I did a lot of good things. They hit some balls hard. It's a little bit easier to move on knowing I didn't beat myself."

Video: CHC@STL: Montgomery strikes out Munoz for 1st K

Hamels will be one of the Cubs' starting five. He was acquired earlier in the day from the Rangers in the two teams' second deal this month. The veteran lefty will join his Texas teammate, reliever Jesse Chavez. Are the Cubs finished dealing?

"Not necessarily," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday. "We're still out looking, and we'll be there until the last minute before the Deadline. There's only so many opportunities to get better, and it's harder after July 31.

"We hope we've achieved stability and gotten better and still continue to look."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hot streak: When Rizzo hit his walk-off home run in the ninth on Thursday at Wrigley Field against the D-backs, it was his first homer in 26 games. He didn't wait as long between homers this time.

Video: ARI@CHC: Rizzo crushes a walk-off solo home run

With one out in the third on Friday, Rizzo drilled his second homer in as many games and No. 14 of the season to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Rizzo connected on a 1-1 fastball from Weaver, launching it 427 feet to right field. He has now hit 179 home runs with the Cubs, and is tied for 12th in franchise history with Derrek Lee. Next up is Alfonso Soriano, who hit 181.

"I would love a nice streak of [home runs]," Rizzo said. "But it's not something I'm pressing for."

Juggling act: Jason Heyward knows Busch Stadium well, having called it home in 2015, and the five-time Gold Glove winner nearly made an impressive catch at the fence in right on DeJong's hit in the third.

The Cardinals had one out and a runner at second when DeJong lined the ball to right off the mesh fence near the St. Louis bullpen. Heyward nearly caught the ball, but it deflected off his glove onto a cushioned part of the fence. Heyward was able to barehand it after a couple of bounces, but DeJong ended up with an RBI triple.

Video: CHC@STL: DeJong plates Molina with his 1st triple

"It was a two-strike fastball," DeJong said. "I think it leaked back over. I think [Montgomery] may have tried to go inside, and I think it was middle away, but I was just trying to battle and put a good swing on it, and Heyward almost made a nice play. I thought it was a double, but like I said earlier, I kept going because the throw was going home, and I'll take that triple."

SOUND SMART
Alec Mills, recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Friday, retired all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings. It was his first big league action since September 2016, when he made three appearances for the Royals.

Video: CHC@STL: Mills K's Fowler in his Cubs debut

HE SAID IT
"He's a big name, he has a resume. He's Cole Hamels, and he's pitched in a lot of big games, and he's going to hopefully pitch in a lot more big games for us. It's another confidence boost for us. The front office continues to add on and brings in a big-name guy who has a pedigree of pitching in big games." -- Rizzo, on the addition of Hamels

Hamels: Cubs tenure to be 'tremendous journey'

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With one out in the Cubs' fifth, Rizzo tried to extend his hit to a double, but right fielder Dexter Fowler threw to shortstop Paul DeJong and Rizzo was called out. The Cubs challenged the ruling, but after a review, the call stood. Of course, Fowler had to smile at his former teammate after the play.

"He got lucky," Rizzo said.

Video: CHC@STL: Fowler cuts down Rizzo at second

UP NEXT
Jose Quintana will start in the second game of this three-game series Saturday. It will be interesting to see how Quintana bounces back after throwing 121 pitches in his last outing against the Cardinals, during which he gave up two runs over seven innings and got the win. The lefty was working on extra rest in that game. He also has been tinkering with his changeup, and the changes seemed to work. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Miles Mikolas. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT from Busch Stadium.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, Mike Montgomery, Anthony Rizzo