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Ryan Dempster’s scoreless streak hits 33 innings in win over Diamondbacks

Ryan Dempster pitched six scoreless innings gave up four hits three walks against Diamondbacks. He struck out five. | John

Ryan Dempster pitched six scoreless innings and gave up four hits and three walks against the Diamondbacks. He struck out five. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 17, 2012 6:56AM

General manager Jed Hoyer was firm Saturday in his assertion that the team the Cubs put on the field after July 31 ‘‘will be one we’re proud of.’’

But it’s more and more likely it won’t include right-hander Ryan Dempster, whose value continues to climb with each outing as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nears.

Dempster’s performance Saturday in a 4-1 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks stretched his scoreless streak to a career-best
33 innings.

He worked six scoreless innings in his second outing since returning from the disabled list for a sore right lat. Dempster has won five consecutive decisions, his record is 5-3 and his ERA (1.86) keeps

There was no way to tell if this was his last game at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform.

‘‘There’s that possibility, but you’re in the moment of pitching a game,’’ Dempster said.

‘‘He’s just one of those guys [with] a presence about him and how he goes about his business and how he can talk to the younger guys and even the older guys,’’ manager Dale Sveum said.

‘‘He’s the ultimate professional and the kind of guy who always tries to make himself better no
matter what he’s accomplished. He’ll do whatever he can to compete and help the team.’’

Dempster tied Ken Holtzman for the longest scoreless streak by a Cubs starter since 1969. Bill Lee had scoreless streaks of 37 and 35 innings for the Cubs in 1938.

‘‘It’s pretty crazy,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘When you do something like that as a reliever, it’s more realistic because you’re going out there an inning at a time.

‘‘It’s pretty humbling because you’re not thinking about that. You’re just trying to win a game.’’

The victory improved the Cubs’ record to 11-4 in their last 15 games and to 6-2 in their last eight against left-handed starters. This time, Joe Saunders (4-6) was the victim.

The defense sparkled again, and timely two-out hitting from Darwin Barney and Luis Valbuena fueled a two-run fourth.

The ninth had drama. But after
giving up a double and a walk, Carlos Marmol earned his ninth save with a catch at the right-field wall by Reed Johnson and a game-ending double play that was started by first baseman Anthony Rizzo and ended with Marmol stretching for shortstop Starlin Castro’s relay throw.

‘‘It was another nice win for us and another series win,’’ Dempster said as the Cubs moved above .500 (21-20) at home for the first time since April 23, 2011.

Dempster thinks things are turning around for the Cubs, but the die has been cast for veterans like him on a losing ballclub.

‘‘There are ways to improve the organization long term [through trades],’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘Yes, you can make improvements, but there’s a reason teams are calling you. It means your record isn’t very good, and you’re giving up good players. You don’t want to be in that position often.

‘‘We’ll field a team we’ll be proud of after July 31, and that’s what we’re focused on, too.’’

‘‘I understand the business side of baseball, too, and [bettering] your team for the future [through trades],’’ Dempster said. ‘‘I’m well-aware of the things going on and the rumors, but I’m a member of the Chicago Cubs and trying to do the best for the team and my teammates.’’

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