Dempster Tunes Up as Spring Winds Down – Cubs 3, Dodgers 6

Spring Game Thirty-One – Cubs 3, Dodgers (SS) 6
WP – Scott Elbert (1-0) LP – Manny Corpas (0-1) Save – None

After a good stretch of exhibition games in which the Cubs played better ball, the team lost for the second day in a row … and appeared to just be getting their work in Friday afternoon in Mesa against a Dodgers’ split squad.

Ryan Dempster made his final spring start and allowed one run on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Dempster was, Ryan Dempster on Friday afternoon. Dempster found himself in deep counts throughout a majority of his last tune-up before his Opening Day start against the Nationals.

Ryan Dempster turned the 1-1 game over to James Russell in the fifth. Russell, the Cubs’ lone southpaw in the pen, retired the only batter he faced.

Manny Corpas and Lendy Castillo are battling for one of the final spots in Dale Sveum’s relief corps and neither one put together a good outing. Corpas sat down the Dodgers in order in his first inning but gave up three runs on two hits and a walk in his second inning of work. Corpas departed with two outs in the seventh.

Lendy Castillo struggled and not only did he allow a run on three hits with a walk and an error in his 1 1/3 innings but he also allowed an inherited runner to score. Castillo has had a good spring but his last few outings have been that of a Rule 5 pick with no experience above A-ball.

Marcus Hatley, up for the day from minor league camp, gave up a run in the ninth on two hits.

The Cubs’ Opening Day lineup struggled against Fernando Nieve and the Dodgers’ big league pen. Dale Sveum’s offense managed just one run on four hits over the first seven innings.

Ian Stewart (1-for-4 with a home run) provided the Cubs lone highlight early in the game. Stewart’s second homer of the spring tied the game at one in the fourth. Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) doubled in David DeJesus (1-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and a HBP) in the eighth. The Cubs final run came in the ninth after Marlon Byrd (2-for-3 with a triple, a walk and a run scored) reached on an Arizona-triple and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Steve Clevenger (0-for-1 with a RBI).

As Len Kasper pointed out at the end of Friday’s broadcast, the goal for the Cubs at this point of the spring must be to leave Arizona without any major injuries … and they got their work in on the final Friday of the Cactus League.

Ryan Dempster issued a walk to Dee Gordon to start the game, which is never a good omen, even in the spring, for Dempster. Mark Ellis fouled out to Castro in shallow left for the first out. With James Loney at the dish, Gordon took off for second. Geovany Soto threw a strike to Castro and nailed Gordon for the second out. Loney flied out to left (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.

The Cubs wasted a chance to put runs on the board in the bottom of the first. David DeJesus reached on an infield single to first. Darwin Barney grounded out to short on a 3-1 pitch. DeJesus ended up at second after he ran on the 3-1 pitch to Barney. Starlin Castro stepped in and ripped a double into left. DeJesus slipped on the third base bag and did not score. Castro made it back to second safely but was shaken up on the play.

With runners on second and third with one out, Bryan LaHair struck out swinging and Alfonso Soriano flied out to right for the third out.

Darwin Barney helped Dempster retired Juan Uribe to start the second. Uribe in a three-hopper up the middle of the field. Barney ranged behind second, dove, caught the ball and threw out Uribe at first. Tony Gwynn, Jr. grounded out to first (3-2 pitch) for the second out … but Matt Angle reached on a bunt single.

Luis Cruz ripped a double down the left field line. Angle scored, 1-0 Dodgers. Dempster then walked Matt Treanor. With runners on first and third with two down, Dempster jumped ahead of Fernando Nieve, 1-2. Nieve put together a long at bat. The Dodgers’ pitcher fouled off several 3-2 offerings before hitting a blooper into shallow center that Barney caught to end the inning.

Other than a two out walk by Marlon Byrd, the Cubs did nothing against Fernando Nieve in the second.

Dempster made quick work of Dee Gordon and Mark Ellis to start the third. James Loney singled to right but Uribe fouled out to Ian Stewart (2-0 pitch) to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the third inning … and after three, the Cubs trailed 1-0.

Dempster started the fourth by retiring Gwynn, Jr. on a first pitch grounder to Bryan LaHair. Matt Angle ripped a single into center on a 2-2 pitch and with Angle running, Cruz grounded out to second. Angle advanced into scoring position on the fielder’s choice.

Matt Treanor put together a very long at bat that ended with him swinging and missing at a 2-2 pitch to end the fourth.

After Bryan LaHair (tap back to the mound) and Alfonso Soriano (fly out to center) made two quick outs to start the fourth, Ian Stewart ripped his second homer of the spring over the wall in right and tied the game at one. Byrd followed with a single but Soto flied out to center to end the inning.

Ryan Dempster’s last inning of the game started with pinch-hitter, Noel Cuevas, flying out to right. Dempster struck out Dee Gordon and ended his outing the same way it began, with a free pass. Dempster walked Mark Ellis with two down in the fifth.

Dale Sveum went to his pen and brought in James Russell to face James Loney … and Russell won the battle of the Jameses. Loney popped out to shallow left (0-1 pitch) for the third out.

Mike MacDougal started the bottom of the fifth and walked Blake DeWitt on five pitches. DeJesus struck out swinging. With Barney at the plate, a ball in the dirt allowed DeWitt to advance to second and he took third when Treanor’s throw ended up in center. The Cubs ran the bases well but once again left a runner on third with less than two outs.

Darwin Barney flied out to shallow right (2-2 pitch) and Castro grounded out to third (2-0 pitch) to end the inning.

Blake DeWitt stayed in the game and took over for Barney at second prior to the start of the sixth … and Alfredo Amezaga replaced Castro at short.

Manny Corpas retired the Dodgers in order in the sixth … and Scott Elbert sat down the Cubs in order in the home-half of the sixth.

After six, the game was tied at one.

Manny Corpas stayed in and retired Cruz on a grounder to third to begin the inning. Matt Treanor then reached on an infield single up the middle. DeWitt fielded the ball but his throw was late … and Corpas could not recover. Corpas walked pinch-hitter Tim Federowicz (3-2 pitch). With the game tied at one, Dee Gordon ripped a triple into right. Treanor and Federowicz scored … 3-1, Dodgers. Corpas retired Ellis on a pop out to second and Dale Sveum went to his pen with two outs and a runner on third.

Lendy Castillo made his way in from the pen and gave up a single to right on a 3-2 pitch to James Loney. Gordon scored, 4-1 Dodgers … and closed the book on Corpas for the afternoon. Uribe popped out to third to end the seventh.

The Cubs did nothing against Kenley Jansen in the seventh.

Steve Clevenger (C) and Joe Mather (2B) entered the game in the eighth … and Lendy Castillo stayed on the hill.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. led off the eighth with a double to right center (2-0 pitch, one-hopped the wall). Castillo paid a lot of attention to Gwynn and almost picked him off second early in Angle’s at bat. Before a 3-2 pitch to Angle, Castillo tried to pick Gwynn off second again and threw the ball into center. Gwynn took third and Sveum moved his infield in. Castillo walked Angle.

With runners on first and third with no outs, Luis Cruz blooped a single into right center on a 0-2 pitch. Gwynn scored, 5-1 Dodgers. Castillo recovered and limited the damage. Treanor flied out to right center (0-1 pitch) and with runners on first and third with two down, Pedro Baez fouled out to first.

The Dodgers’ closer started the bottom of the eighth and promptly hit David DeJesus. Alfredo Amezaga hit Javy Guerra’s first pitch to short. The Dodgers could not turn two on the weak grounder. DeJesus ended up at second. Bryan LaHair walked and Soriano stepped to the plate with runners on first and second with two down.

Alfonso Soriano pulled the first pitch from Guerra down the left field line. DeJesus scored, LaHair held at third and the Cubs were down 5-2 after Soriano’s double. Stewart grounded out to second (1-2 pitch) for the final out in the eighth.

The Dodgers took advantage of Marcus Hatley and scored one run on two hits in the ninth.

The Cubs final run came in the bottom of the ninth. Marlon Byrd hit a routine fly to right that was lost in the sun. Byrd ended up at third and scored when Steve Clevenger grounded out to third. With one down and the bases empty, Joe Mather (ground out to third) and David DeJesus grounded out to first … exhibition game over.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs host the ‘other‘ team from Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon … Paul Maholm against Garrett Richards.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth