Montero possibly heads down on high note

NEW YORK -- Assuming Jacob deGrom returns from the disabled list to start next weekend at Dodger Stadium and Rafael Montero heads to Triple-A until September, Montero should depart feeling upbeat.

“No doubt about it,” manager Terry Collins said after Montero limited the Cubs to one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings in the Mets’ eventual 2-1 loss on Sunday. “No matter what happens here in a few days, certainly he’s got to be happy with the way he threw today and his confidence has got to be pretty high.”

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Montero pitched into the eighth inning Sunday.

Montero was spared a hard-luck loss when Curtis Granderson produced a game-tying RBI single in the eighth inning. Still, Montero is 0-3 in his young career. He became only the third pitcher in franchise history to have not produced a win in his first six career starts, joining deGrom and Chris Schwinden.

Montero had shied away from his changeup in previous outings, having used it only 9.6 percent of the time in his other five starts. He threw it on 24 of 105 pitches Sunday -- more than double the previous rate.

“The changeup was one of my best pitches today,” he said through an interpreter. “I was throwing it for a strike, so I continued to use it and it was effective.”

Said Collins: “We had heard his changeup was outstanding, and today he showed it. He showed great use of it, great location with it. 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.”