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Chicago at New York

Scoreboard
Chi. Cubs (33-52) «400000300790
N.Y. Mets (46-40)000000000080

Dempster leads Cubs in shutout of Mets

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

NEW YORK -- Ryan Dempster is too busy watching Swamp People to see the stories about him being possible trade bait. He's pitching too well, though, to know that he might be in another uniform by the end of the month.

Dempster extended his scoreless innings streak to 27 in his first start in three weeks, Starlin Castro hit a three-run homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets 7-0 on Sunday.

"I don't really notice a lot of the rumors," Dempster said. "I just handle what I can handle and that's going out there and pitching and doing my job. Wherever the cards fall they fall."

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Dempster (4-3) was activated from the disabled list then pitched five innings of four-hit ball in his first outing since June 15, when he experienced tightness in a back muscle. His lengthy string of zeros is the Cubs' best for a starter since Ken Holtzman went 27 innings in 1971.

The Cubs made it as comfortable as possible for Dempster, scoring four runs before he even threw a pitch.

Alfonso Soriano had an RBI single, Jeff Baker a run-scoring double with a jam shot to the opposite field and Geovany Soto drove in two runs with a single against Jonathon Niese.

Niese (7-4) had only given up four or more runs in a game five times -- 16 starts -- this season entering Sunday.

"They came out swinging," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He was trying to get ahead [and] they were hammering the first pitch."

The Cubs finished the first half in the midst of a modest surge, winning nine of 13 to improve to a disappointing 33-52 in Theo Epstein's first year in charge. It's their worst record before the break since 2006 when they were 34-54.

The team has been a little up and down but everybody hustles right now," Castro said. "Let's see in the second half everybody pull a little bit together and win more games."

The Mets had a chance to move a season high-tying eight games above .500 but continued a recent trend of trading wins and losses. They go into the All-Star break 46-40, their best first half since 2010 when they were 48-40. New York finished a homestand against last place teams, Philadelphia and Chicago, 3-3.

Not that the Mets didn't have had their chances Sunday. They put runners in scoring position in each of first three innings and also in the sixth but came up empty.

Dempster put his streak in jeopardy by allowing a one-out triple to Scott Hairston in the second but he got Jordany Valdespin to line out to second and Josh Thole to groundout to shortstop. Niese and Ruben Tejada opened the third with singles but the Nos. 2-3-4 hitters couldn't capitalize.

After Tejada's hit, Dempster retired nine in a row before being lifted.

"He was way more efficient than we thought," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. " Everything went well. He feels great."

The right-hander was scheduled to start the Cubs' first game after the All-Star break on Friday but Sveum said Dempster will start Saturday instead to better fit his throwing program. Paul Maholm will move up from Saturday.

Dempster has won four in a row after an 18-start winless streak dating back to Aug. 11. He struck out four and walked none.

Maholm came on in relief for the first time. He made 201 consecutive starts until he entered in the sixth and gave up two hits. But the Mets failed again with runners on. Ike Davis popped to shortstop and Lucas Duda grounded into a double play.

Manuel Corpas, James Russell and Shawn Camp finished the eight-hitter.

Niese had settled in after the first, allowing only one hit until Luis Valbuena singled with one out in the seventh. Reed Johnson singled with two outs and Castro hit the first pitch for a three-run homer, his seventh long ball this year.

"A little tough the last couple of weeks, but today something good happened," Castro said.

Niese allowed seven runs and nine hits in seven innings.

Notes

  • To make room for Dempster on the Cubs roster, Chris Volstad was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Volstad is 0-7 this season.
  • Mets prospects RHP Zach Wheeler and 3B Wilmer Flores were scheduled to play in the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City Sunday.
  • Valdespin started in center field for first time in his career.
  • Game took a crisp 2 hours, 8 minutes.
  • Collins said Johan Santana will not start Friday. He'll go Sunday or Monday instead. "We're going to let Johan's ankle have an extra day or so," Collins said. "He's fine. Don't misread anything." Santana twisted his ankle in Friday's start, when he gave up a career high-tying 13 hits.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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The Cubs' Ryan Dempster comes off the disabled list and allows four hits in five innings to earn the win against the Mets.  (Getty Images)
The Cubs' Ryan Dempster comes off the disabled list and allows four hits in five innings to earn the win against the Mets. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Chicago

S. Castro
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Chicago

R. Dempster
IP 5.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 0
K 4
 
Chicago Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Reed Johnson, CF-LF4220000 .302
Starlin Castro, SS4223010 .291
Anthony Rizzo, 1B4000001 .354
Alfonso Soriano, LF4111000 .265
    Tony Campana, CF0000000 .272
Jeff Baker, RF4121010 .272
Geovany Soto, C4012021 .177
Darwin Barney, 2B4000011 .259
Luis Valbuena, 3B4110001 .225
Ryan Dempster, P2000010 .111
    Paul Maholm, P0000000 .065
   a- Joe Mather, PH1000001 .235
    Manny Corpas, P0000000 .000
    James Russell, P0000000 .000
   b- Bryan LaHair, PH1000010 .286
    Shawn Camp, P0000000 .000
Totals3679707  
a-popped out for Maholm in the 7th
b-struck out for Russell in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jeff Baker (9, Niese)
HR - Starlin Castro (7, Niese)
RBI - Starlin Castro 3 (43), Alfonso Soriano (48), Jeff Baker (15), Geovany Soto 2 (12)
2-OUT RBI - Starlin Castro 3 (14)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Barney-Castro-Rizzo, Rizzo-Castro-Corpas
Chicago Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Ryan Dempster (W,4-3) 5400040 1.99
Paul Maholm 1200000 4.57
Manny Corpas 1100000 1.80
James Russell 1100000 2.38
Shawn Camp 1000010 2.80
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 63-45, Paul Maholm 12-7, Manny Corpas 8-5, James Russell 8-5, Shawn Camp 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 6-5, Paul Maholm 1-1, Manny Corpas 2-0
Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 19, Paul Maholm 4, Manny Corpas 3, James Russell 4, Shawn Camp 3
New York Mets
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ruben Tejada, SS4010000 .325
Daniel Murphy, 2B4030002 .295
David Wright, 3B4010014 .351
Ike Davis, 1B4000015 .201
Lucas Duda, RF4000021 .249
Scott Hairston, LF4010000 .249
Jordany Valdespin, CF3010011 .257
Josh Thole, C3000002 .264
Jonathon Niese, P2010000 .240
    Pedro Beato, P0000000 .000
   a- Omar Quintanilla, PH0000000 .257
   b- Justin Turner, PH1000000 .281
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
Totals3308005  
a-announced for Beato in the 8th
b-flied out for Quintanilla in the 8th
Batting
3B - Scott Hairston (2, Dempster)
SB - Daniel Murphy (6, 2nd base off Dempster/Soto)
Team LOB - 6
New York Mets
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jonathon Niese (L,7-4) 7977031 3.73
Pedro Beato 1000020 0.00
Tim Byrdak 1000020 3.57
Pitches-Strikes - Jonathon Niese 89-68, Pedro Beato 12-9, Tim Byrdak 8-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jonathon Niese 6-12
Batters Faced - Jonathon Niese 30, Pedro Beato 3, Tim Byrdak 3
Game Information
Attendance - 25920
Game Time - 2:08
Temperature - 89
Umpires - Home - Doug Eddings, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Angel Campos, Third Base - Paul Nauert