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Cubs talks with Dodgers for Dempster appear to be gaining momentum

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

Still hoping to add a starting pitcher, the Dodgers continue to engage the Cubs in discussions for Ryan Dempster and indications are that those talks are gaining momentum, according to sources.

The fact that the Cubs have yet to deal remains one of the biggest surprises with Tuesday's non-waivers trade deadline now barely more than 24 hours away, and after declining the trade to the Braves, Dempster could in the end get his wish and be on the way to Los Angeles.

The Cubs initially wanted Zach Lee, a top prospect deemed off limits by the Dodgers, who also nixed a Cubs request for right-hander Allen Webster. And the Dodgers initially appeared more interested in Cubs right-hander Matt Garza than in Dempster.

But a couple of things have changed. Chicago clearly lost leverage when Dempster nixed the Braves deal. And Garza became less attractive after his latest start had to be pushed back to later this week when an MRI exam revealed a "trace" of fluid in his right triceps. Garza had complained of cramping in his right forearm.

Dempster, next due to start Tuesday night against the Pirates, is 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts for the Cubs this season. The Cubs remain motivated to move him and, if the Dodgers fall through, the Braves remain a potential destination for him -- and, sources tell colleague Danny Knobler, that the Nationals have interest, too. Though it is not certain whether Dempster, with full no-trade powers, would consent to go to either of those places.

Having acquired slugger Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins last week, the Dodgers are gaining traction in the NL West. Following a big three-game sweep in San Francisco over the weekend, they moved into a first-place tie with the Giants.

The Dodgers open a nine-game homestand Monday night against the Diamondbacks in what will be Ramirez's home debut.

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