Ryan Dempster has some run support, but still gets a no-decision
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 14, 2012 10:36PM
Darwin Barney ducks away from an inside pitch while trying to lay down a bunt Monday against the Cardinals. | Dilip Vishwanat~Getty Images
Updated: June 16, 2012 8:17AM
ST. LOUIS — This is getting ridiculous.
Ryan Dempster, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter, got half as much run support in one game (four runs) as he had all season (eight) and still managed to come away without a win Monday in St. Louis, leaving him winless in six starts despite a 1.74 ERA.
‘‘That’s all right. Baby steps,’’ said Dempster, who pitched the first six innings of the Cubs’ 6-4 win over the first-place Cardinals in the opener of a two-game mini-series at Busch Stadium. ‘‘We got a win when I started a game. So that’s nice. You feel like you did your part.’’
Dempster entered the game with the distinction of having the lowest ERA (1.02) without a win for any Cub through five starts since the National League began tracking earned runs in 1912, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
When the Cubs staked him to his largest lead of the season, 4-0 with a big fifth inning, his first win looked imminent. Until he gave up four in the bottom of the sixth and then was lifted for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh.
When Reed Johnson struck out in Dempster’s place, it left him with another no-decision.
‘‘It’s tough. You get a four-run lead like that … ,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘I made a bunch of good pitches that inning but also left a pitch up over the plate to [Yadier] Molina [for a two-out, two-run double], and he was able to drive some runs in.’’
Dempster has gone 15 starts without a win dating to August.
Soriano stays put
Manager Dale Sveum said he has no plans of dropping Alfonso Soriano from the fifth spot in the order despite inconsistent production, including no home runs in 116 at-bats this season.
It paid off when Soriano delivered a two-out, go-ahead single in the eighth after Starlin Castro bunted into a double play and Bryan LaHair was intentionally walked.
‘‘One of the reasons is we don’t really have anybody else to put in that spot,’’ said Sveum. ‘‘You try to mix things up a little bit as far as left-right in that area. We talk about home runs, but it doesn’t have to be home runs. It’s just a matter of driving the runs in and doing a lot of things with the top of the order getting on base.’’
Said Soriano: ‘‘I don’t have the home runs, but when my team needs a big hit, I’m there. I know my power is coming sooner or later, so for right now, it’s big hits and help the team win. That’s more important than homers.’’
LaHair’s streak of reaching base in 31 games is the longest for a Cubs first baseman since Phil Cavarretta in 1945.
◆ Rafael Dolis who experienced some minor back soreness in his last appearance, Friday in Milwaukee, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
◆ Soriano says the sore left knee that sidelined him for two games last week still is not 100 percent.