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Travis Wood’s 5-HR clunker makes history as Cardinals top Cubs

Cubs starter Travis Wood reacts giving up Allen Craig’s homer fifth inning Friday Wrigley Field establish an unfortunate first major-league

Cubs starter Travis Wood reacts to giving up Allen Craig’s homer in the fifth inning Friday at Wrigley Field to establish an unfortunate first in major-league history. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 29, 2012 12:27PM

Ron Santo became a Hall of Famer last Sunday, but the late, beloved third baseman and broadcaster would say he was first and foremost a Cubs fan.

No doubt he’d have felt like most fans at Wrigley Field on Friday — happy to take part in Ron Santo Day festivities honoring his induction but ever-curious about what will happen to his team in the next five days as the trade deadline nears.

For all the rumors about where Cubs ace Ryan Dempster may be headed — the Los Angeles Dodgers remain the likely team — the front office was mum Friday. So was Dempster, who took part in his usual routine between starts. 

Major-league sources confirmed again Friday that the Dodgers remain interested in Dempster, perhaps more so now after the Los Angeles Angels acquired Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers. The 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner was among the coveted pitchers on the market.

While a deal with the Atlanta Braves had seemed imminent, the Braves apparently would be unable to assume much of what’s left on Dempster’s $14 million contract. He also would not OK that deal.

The Dodgers can pay, relieving the Cubs of that cost. But that also has put the Dodgers in position to hold out on the prospects they would offer the Cubs in return.

The Cubs are focusing on Class  AA pitching prospect Allen Webster, 22, considered the second-best in the organization.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum acknowledged that the uncertainty of trade time ‘‘weighs on you.’’

‘‘Everyone is human,’’ he said.

That includes the manager, who thinks about what his rotation will look like without Dempster and perhaps Matt Garza or Paul Maholm.

Left-hander Travis Wood will be part of what remains, but his third straight loss Friday, a 9-6 decision against the St. Louis Cardinals in which he gave up five homers, wasn’t comforting.

Wood had been stellar in six starts through June, going 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA. But his last three starts, including two losses to the Cardinals, have produced a painful winless stretch and an ERA of 10.00 (24 earned runs in 212/3 innings).

Wood allowed a homer in each of the first five innings, a first for a starting pitcher in major-league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was the first time the Cubs had allowed a home run in each of the first five innings.

‘‘I missed some pitches, and they didn’t miss them and hit them out,’’ said Wood (4-6). ‘‘I was on a roll [in June] and now I’m on the other side of it. Just have to keep working.’’

Sveum said Wood’s lack of off-speed pitches was the problem.

‘‘It’s more the matchups than him struggling,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘That lineup against left-handed pitching is tough. He doesn’t throw curveballs and [soft] stuff. When you don’t have soft stuff against that lineup, it’s tough.’’

Sveum admitted it wouldn’t be the worst thing if Dempster stayed.

‘‘It’d be nice to have him the rest of the year,’’ he said. ‘‘Fortunately for Demp, he has the 10-5 rights [10 years in the majors and five with the team to reject any trade]. People don’t always know what goes on behind the scenes and why you accept or not. But he’s one of the class guys and best teammates — and one of the most productive. It’s a tough situation to be in.’’

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