(Sports Network) - Red-hot veteran Ryan Dempster aims for a sixth consecutive
win tonight when his Chicago Cubs open up a three-game series with the St.
Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
The subject of numerous trade rumors, Dempster, who was winless through his
initial nine starts of 2012 despite a solid 2.90 earned run average, has been
lights out since - winning all five outings since early June while trimming
the ERA to a stingy 1.86.
He's not given up a run in any of the starts since the stretch began,
prolonging the streak to 33 complete innings when he blanked Arizona on four
hits across six innings of the Cubs' 4-1 win on July 14.
In the five games, Chicago has outscored its opponents, 32-3.
Dempster has allowed 20 hits and struck out 21 batters in the scoreless run,
in which he's also beaten Milwaukee, Minnesota, Boston and the New York Mets
while sandwiching the All-Star break and a stint on the 15-disabled list.
The former reliever is 8-8 with 15 saves in 48 career meetings with St. Louis.
The Cardinals reply with righty Kyle Lohse, a 33-year-old Californian who's
not lost since mid-June. Lohse is 3-0 in his last five starts while pitching
at least seven innings in four of the games and allowing three earned runs or
less in all five.
He defeated Miami, 3-2, in his final start before the All-Star break on July 7
and has worked once since, getting a no-decision in the Cardinals' 3-2 loss at
Cincinnati on July 14 after allowing two runs on eight hits in six innings.
He's 2-4 lifetime against the Cubs.
On Thursday in Chicago, Paul Maholm tossed eight innings of one-run ball to
lead the Cubs past the Miami Marlins, 4-2, in the rubber match of a three-game
set at Wrigley Field.
Maholm (8-6) scattered five hits and a walk while striking out four to record
his fourth straight winning decision.
"You work fast, you mix speeds, you keep the ball down and you put your
defense to work and they make plays," Maholm said. "I'm all about trying to
get it over with quick."
Carlos Marmol allowed a run in the ninth but still earned his 11th save of the
Alfonso Soriano homered and Reed Johnson knocked in a pair of runs for the
Cubs, who have won six of their last seven games.
On Wednesday in Milwaukee, Corey Hart hit a two-run single during a four-run
first inning and the Brewers held on for a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals.
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (7-10) was a hard-luck loser after striking
out nine, walking none and giving up just four hits in seven innings. Three of
the runs charged to him in a sloppy first inning were unearned.
The teams have split eight games across three series in 2012, with the Cubs
winning two of five in St. Louis. The Cardinals won the season series last
year and the Cubs won it in 2010.
The Cubs and Cardinals franchises have played 2,158 times since 1901, with
Chicago winning 1,100 to St. Louis's 1,058.
The Sports Network