MILWAUKEE — The Chicago Cubs acquired Mike Montgomery in July with the intention of bolstering their bullpen.
An injury prompted him moving into the rotation and in his fourth start with the Cubs on Wednesday night, Montgomery turned in five strong innings, allowing one run and two hits.
He didn’t factor into the decision as the Cubs lost to the Brewers 2-1, sparked by Jonathan Villar’s two home runs and a game-saving catch by Keon Broxton in the ninth.
“(Montgomery) was really good,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “The hanging changeup to Villar, that was the pitch that hurt us. But good curveball, good changeup, good fastball.”
Montgomery, acquired from Seattle in a four-player trade, gained a spot in the starting rotation when John Lackey went on the disabled list with a shoulder problem. He remained in the rotation after Lackey’s return on Sunday as the Cubs have temporarily opted to go with a six-man rotation.
Montgomery faced the minimum number of batters through three innings.
“I felt a little better than the last couple outings,” Montgomery said. “I just wanted to go out and attack guys a little better, and get ahead. I made a mistake to Villar, but I felt good about (the outing).”
Milwaukee, which took two of three in the series, got its first hit when Villar homered leading off the fourth. Villar homered again off Joe Smith (1-1), the sixth Chicago pitcher, leading off the eighth.
Corey Knebel (1-2) pitched a scoreless inning in relief to get the win. Tyler Thornburg notched his ninth save in 13 chances.
With one out in the ninth, Rizzo hit a drive to deep center. Broxton drifted back and jumped above the wall to make the catch.
“I knew I hit it well, it just wasn’t carrying as much as it was yesterday,” Rizzo said. “(Broxton) made a nice play.”
Maddon said he knew that ball would carry to the fence as soon as it was hit.
“That kid, Broxton, he’s so athletic that he was able to go over it,” he said.
The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the first against Milwaukee starter Matt Garza, but failed to score.
Garza, facing his former team for the second time this season, retired 14 of 15 batters at one point before giving up the solo home run to Rizzo with two outs in the sixth.
“He made that one mistake to me on the slider but other than that, he really pitched us well,” Rizzo said.
Garza gave up one run and three hits in six innings.
Milwaukee won for just the sixth time in the last 28 games against the Cubs.
Ryan Braun tried to stretch a single into a double in the fourth but slid past second base and was called out when Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist applied the tag.
Cubs: Reliever Justin Grimm left the game with an undisclosed illness after facing one batter in the sixth. … Maddon thought about resting Rizzo but reconsidered. “Watching him yesterday, he didn’t look tired so I put him back in. I thought the day before (Monday) his bat looked a little bit off,” Maddon said. “But with the night game after the day game he got some good rest. We have a day off (Thursday) so I chose to play him today.”
Cubs: Jon Lester (15-4, 2.61 ERA) gets the start as Chicago opens a three-game series at Houston on Friday. Lester took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last start on Friday against San Francisco and finished with a complete game three-hitter. He will make his second career start against Houston and first since June 2008.
Brewers: Junior Guerra (7-3, 2.85 ERA) will take the mound as Milwaukee opens a four-game series at St. Louis on Thursday. Guerra is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis, both coming this season.