There were good reasons why, in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Cubs had a catcher on the mound and the Mets had a pitcher at the plate as a pinch hitter. The game was out of hand and both sides wanted to preserve players. Or maybe fate just figured it was about time.

Miguel Montero made his first pitching appearance to spare the bullpen late in the Cubs’ 14-3 loss at Citi Field on Sunday. His pitches all showed up on the scoreboard as changeups. “Everything is probably pre-set regarding velocity,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The machine only knows what it has been told in advance.”

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Jacob deGrom, a good hitter for a pitcher, was sent up to bat for Curtis Granderson, who returned after a calf injury. Manager Terry Collins did not want to use Asdrubal Cabrera, who had the day off to rest a knee that the manager said “has been barking on him.” Cabrera is expected to play Monday against the Marlins, but there was a void Sunday.

“Jake said he wanted to hit. I let him go up there and hit,” Collins said.

DeGrom flied out to left, and everyone had an unusual experience. Maddon said, “I have to believe that is somewhat of a first.”

n Extra bases

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When Edgardo Alfonzo had six hits in a game, a Mets record equaled by Wilmer Flores in his two-homer game Sunday, he did it during a 17-1 win at Houston on Aug. 30, 1999. And he hit three home runs . . . Collins said “I’d be surprised” if Jose Reyes pronounced himself ready to return to the major leagues Monday . . . Jeimer Candelario, born in New York City and raised in the Dominican Republic, made his major-league debut as the Cubs’ third baseman. After striking out twice, he got his first big-league hit, a single to right in the seventh . . . Despite their gaudy 51-30 record, the Cubs are only 14-17 against teams that are above .500.