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DENVER (AP) — Mike Montgomery was on a strict pitch count but did all he could to stretch it in his starting debut for the Chicago Cubs.
Montgomery pitched four hitless inning before the low pitch count and a mistake ended his day two outs too soon, as the Cubs cruised to a 9-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Kris Bryant launched a long homer and drove in four runs, and Ben Zobrist had three hits and also went deep for Chicago.
Montgomery was solid in his first start since coming over in a trade with Seattle on July 20 but didn't stick around long enough to earn the decision. Manager Joe Maddon was cautious with the young left-hander and took him out after giving up a one-out homer in the fourth, the first and only hit he allowed.
Montgomery threw just 60 pitches but had not started since July 17 with the Mariners. His first seven appearances with Chicago were out of the bullpen, so Maddon kept him on a strict pitch count.
"It's almost like spring training for him right now. Just stretching him out," Maddon said. "I thought he was outstanding. Would I have loved to have left him out there? Absolutely."
He walked two batters through four innings and got Ryan Raburn to start the fifth, but Nick Hundley got Colorado's first hit off the lefty with a solo blast to left that made it 7-1.
Maddon took him out after the homer and Trevor Cahill (3-3) pitched the final 4 2/3 innings for the win.
"As a competitor I wanted to stay in," Montgomery said. "I was a little pissed but I understand the situation and the pitch count. That's just how it goes. I felt good but I respect the decision."
Miguel Montero had three hits and drove in three for the Cubs, who spoiled the major league debut of Rockies starter Jeff Hoffman.
"I felt very comfortable here," Hoffman said. "I don't know why that was. I was really expecting to be nervous, to be jittery, all that stuff. For my first big league game, this was exactly what I was expecting."
Hoffman (0-1), a former first-round pick who was acquired a year ago as part of the deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, started off well but ran into trouble the second time through against the NL Central leaders.
Bryant made it 7-0 in the fifth with his 31st homer, a three-run drive that went an estimated 469 feet to dead center.
It was scoreless until the fourth, when Dexter Fowler led with a single, went to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Hoffman and came home on Bryant's single.
Anthony Rizzo followed with a single, Zobrist's double made it 2-0 and Montero beat the shift with a two-run single to right.
"The three-run homer hurt," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The big one was that two-run single by Montero. We get an out there, we're in good shape."
Hoffman allowed seven runs — six earned — on seven hits in four-plus innings.
The Cubs added a run in the eighth and another on Zobrist's 14th homer in the ninth.
Rockies: CF Charlie Blackmon was not in the starting lineup for the second straight game because of a bruised right toe. Manager Walt Weiss said Blackmon originally hurt it colliding with Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez on Tuesday. Weiss said he doesn't think it's a long-term issue but as of now running in the outfield is tough for Blackmon.
The Rockies optioned RHP Christian Bergman to Albuquerque in order to recall Hoffman from Triple-A. To make room for Hoffman on the 40-man roster, Colorado placed LHP Jason Gurka on waivers for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release. Gurka pitched nine games for Colorado last year.
The Cubs will send RHP Jason Hammel (13-5, 2.75) against his former team to face Rockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa (7-7, 5.29) in the series finale Sunday.
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