NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Montero avoided the long ball that had plagued him so much. Jenrry Mejia, however, couldn't keep the Cubs in the ballpark.
Starlin Castro homered off Mejia on the first pitch of the ninth inning to lift Chicago over the New York Mets 2-1 Sunday.
With the score tied at 1 following a strong outing from Montero, Castro greeted Mejia (5-6) with his 13th home run, an opposite-field drive that barely cleared the wall near the right-field corner.
"I tried to go outside, but he went outside and he got it," Mejia said.
Curtis Granderson tied it with a two-out RBI single off Pedro Strop (2-4) in the eighth, snapping skids of 0 for 17 and 1 for 29. A diving catch by rookie center fielder Arismendy Alcantara moments earlier prevented more potential damage.
The 23-year-old Montero delivered an encouraging performance, throwing 7 1-3 innings for the longest outing of his rookie season. Still, he joined teammate Jacob deGrom and Chris Schwinden as the only Mets pitchers to go winless through their first six major league starts.
"You saw how effective his secondary stuff is. I mean, we had heard his changeup is outstanding and today he showed it. Great use of it, great location with it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I thought he pitched an outstanding game. It was really good for him to have a game up here where he knows he can be successful."
Coming into the game, Montero had served up eight homers in 25 innings — the most in club history through five big league outings. He gave up only four home runs in 74 innings at Triple-A Las Vegas this year.
"I made some adjustments in between starts and they helped me put everything together and be aggressive," Montero said through a translator.
It might have been his last chance to impress for a while, at least in New York. Montero is likely to be bumped from the rotation if deGrom returns from the disabled list next weekend.
"No matter what happens here in a few days, certainly he has to be very happy with the way he threw today and his confidence has got to be pretty high," Collins said.
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