Dempster Doesn’t Skip a Beat – Cubs 7, Mets 0

Game Eighty-Five – Cubs 7, Mets 0
WP – Ryan Dempster (4-3) LP – Jon Niese (7-4) Save – None

wflag.jpgIn the Cubs’ quickest game of the season (2:08), Ryan Dempster picked up where he left off on June 15. With all eyes on him and several scouts in attendance, Ryan Dempster tossed five innings of shutout ball and ran his scoreless innings streak to 27 … the longest streak for a Cubs’ starter since Ken Holtzman tossed 27 scoreless frames in 1971.

Ryan Dempster allowed just four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four on 63 pitches, 45 for strikes. Granted Dempster spent three weeks on the shelf but the last time he allowed a run was in the fifth inning against the Padres on May 30 (a two-run homer by Carlos Quentin). Dempster pitched out of a runner on third with one out without allowing the Mets to score in the second … and a two on, no out jam in the third by retiring the next three batters he faced. Ryan Dempster set down the last nine in a row to close out his day.

Paul Maholm made the first relief appearance of his big league career in the sixth and kept the Mets off the board after allowing the first two hitters to reach. Manny Corpas faced the minimum in the seventh and James Russell pitched a perfect eighth. Shawn Camp closed out the shutout with a three up, three down ninth.

The offense jumped on Jon Niese in the first inning and gave Ryan Dempster all of the run support he would need. Five of the first six Cubs attacked Niese early in the at bats and their aggressiveness paid off.

Reed Johnson (2-for-4 with two runs scored) had another good day and scored the Cubs’ first run on a single by Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored). Jeff Baker (2-for-4 with a double, a RBI and a run scored) doubled in Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto (1-for-4 with two RBI) drove in a pair with his second run producing single of the season.

Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored) had a huge day at the plate and has hit the ball much better since getting a breather in the opener on Friday night. Castro singled in the first and scored the Cubs’ second run then put the game away in the seventh with his first longball since June 18. Castro launched the first pitch he saw from Jon Niese in the seventh and his three-run shot put the Cubs up 7-0.

Anthony Rizzo was 0-for-4 on Sunday … both his hitting (8) and reached base safely (11) streaks came to an end.

The Cubs posted their first winning road trip of the season (4-3) and won the season series against the Metropolitans four games to two. The Cubs completed the first half by winning nine of 13 and finished 3-0-1 in their last four series.

With Sunday’s victory (7-7 on Sundays in 2012), the Cubs improved to 33-52 on the season …

Reed Johnson led off Sunday’s game with a single to left (0-1 pitch). Starlin Castro followed and bounced a 0-1 pitch through the hole and into left. Anthony Rizzo stepped in with runners on first and second and flied out to deep right center (1-2 pitch). Rizzo’s productive out moved Johnson to third with one out.

Alfonso Soriano pulled a 0-1 curveball into left. Johnson scored easily and Castro held at second after Scott Hairston took at excellent route to the ball and kept it from rolling to the wall. With runners on first and second with one out, Jeff Baker got just enough of a 0-1 pitch. Baker hit one off the end of his bat and down the first baseline … Davis was playing him in the hole. Castro scored and Soriano held at third on Baker’s sliding double.

With the infield back and runners on second and third with one down, Geovany Soto pounded a 1-1 pitch into right center. Soriano and Baker scored. The Cubs took a 4-0 lead on five hits by the first six batters. Darwin Barney hit a slow chopper to second, Soto was forced at second then David Wright took away a hit from Luis Valbuena with a leaping catch to end the inning.

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead and forced Jon Niese to throw 22 pitches, 19 for strikes.

Ryan Dempster took the hill for this first time since June 15 and retired Ruben Tejada on foul out to Rizzo (1-1 pitch). Daniel Murphy ripped a 1-1 pitch into right for the Mets’ first hit of the game. Dempster retired David Wright on a flyout to right center. Murphy took off for second on the first pitch to Ike Davis and ended up in scoring position with two down. Davis tapped back to Dempster on the third base side of the mound to end the inning. Dempster threw 14 pitches in his first inning back, nine for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the second … 29 pitches for Niese after two, 23 for strikes.

Lucas Duda struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to start the second. Scott Hairston crushed a 0-1 offering to deep center. Reed Johnson appeared to lose the ball in the sun. The ball hit off the padding, rolled away from Johnson and Hairston ended up at third with a one-out triple. Jordany Valdespin lined out to Barney for the second out … and Josh Thole grounded out to Castro to end the inning. Dempster threw 30 pitches over two innings, 20 for strikes.

Other than a two-out bloop single to center off the bat of Jeff Baker, the Cubs did nothing against Niese in the third (35 pitches for Niese after three, 28 for strikes).

Jon Niese led off the third with a single to center (2-2 pitch). Ruben Tejada blooped a 0-1 pitch into right and the Mets had runners on first and second with no outs. Daniel Murphy popped Dempster’s first pitch to Castro in shallow left. Dempster then struck out David Wright swinging on a 1-2 pitch for the second out. With runners on first and second, Ike Davis popped out to Castro in shallow left. Dempster threw 46 pitches over three innings, 31 for strikes.

The bottom of the Cubs’ lineup did nothing against Niese in the fourth (47 pitches, 37 for strikes).

Ryan Dempster retired the Mets in order for the first time in the fourth. Dempster threw 55 pitches in the first four, 38 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing in the fifth … 1-2-3 for Niese and his pitch count stood at 58, 44 for strikes.

Ryan Dempster set the Mets down in order in the fifth in his last inning of work.

The Cubs did nothing in the sixth.

Paul Maholm made the first relief appearance of his big league career in the sixth. Daniel Murphy and David Wright greeted Maholm with back-to-back singles to center. Maholm fell behind Ike Davis 2-0 before Davis popped a 2-1 pitch to Castro for the first out. With runners on first and second with one out, Lucas Duda ripped a 3-1 pitch toward Barney … 4-6-3 inning ending double play.

After six, the Cubs led 4-0.

Jon Niese retired Darwin Barney on a routine fly to center to begin the seventh. Luis Valbuena recorded his first hit of the game, a single to center. Joe Mather hit for Paul Maholm and popped out to Daniel Murphy for the second out.

Reed Johnson pulled a 1-1 pitch down the third baseline. David Wright made an excellent stop and an off balance throw to first as his momentum carried him into foul ground. Wright’s throw was off the mark and Johnson reached with an infield single.

Starlin Castro pulled an inside fastball, first pitch, over the wall in left center. Castro’s first home run since June 18, and seventh of the season, put the Cubs up 7-0. Anthony Rizzo flied out to left center (2-0 pitch) to end the inning.

Manny Corpas started the seventh by retiring Scott Hairston on a grounder to third. Jordany Valdespin followed and lined a 1-0 pitch into right … but Josh Thole rapped into a 3-6-1 double play to end the inning. Rizzo made a nice pick and throw to Castro to start the twin killing.

After seven, the Cubs led 7-0.

The Cubs did nothing against Pedro Beato in the eighth.

Manny Corpas took the hill to start the eighth. Once Omar Quintanilla was announced as the pinch-hitter for Beato, Dale Sveum went to his pen for James Russell. Terry Collins countered with Justin Turner to face Russell. Turner popped out to left for the first out. After Ruben Tejada blooped out to Barney, Daniel Murphy blooped a single into left. David Wright lined Russell’s first pitch to Soriano to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Tim Byrdak in the ninth … and took a 7-0 lead into the last frame.

Shawn Camp made quick work of the Mets in the ninth … 1-2-3 on 11 pitches, seven for strikes.

Sunday’s win was a good way to finish a rough first half.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

The Cubs are off until Friday, July 13. Paul Maholm, not Ryan Dempster, is scheduled to face Ian Kennedy in game one of the three game series against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field.

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