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Ryan Dempster trying to get on track

History will have to be right-hander Ryan Dempster’s ally in finding the answer to his pitching problems.

‘‘He’s just not executing his pitches, that’s what I see,’’ manager Mike Quade said. ‘‘That slider that’s so good for him, he’s just not executing it. But he’s done it for too many years [not to improve], and I believe he’ll get back in sync.’’

Dempster has a 7.63 ERA in five starts, but he said he hasn’t lost confidence.

‘‘It just comes down to executing pitches,’’ he said. ‘‘I have to push through this. I’ll go out and continue to work between starts.’’

Crime wave

The Cubs stole three bases Saturday after stealing only two in their first 19 games. Darwin Barney (third) and Marlon Byrd (second) completed a double steal in the third inning, and Starlin Castro stole second in the fourth. Castro had the Cubs’ only two steals before Saturday.

But there was a more unusual play on the basepaths after Castro’s steal. Barney drove in Castro with a single, then appeared to be picked off by Dodgers starter Ted Lilly.

In the rundown that followed, though, Dodgers first baseman James Loney was ruled to have interfered with Barney by standing in the basepath without the ball. Barney was awarded second, and Loney was charged with an error.

‘‘We came out of that one smelling like a rose,’’ Quade said.

Tactical decisions

Left-hander James Russell appears to be the Cubs’ choice to start Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

Russell has struggled in his first two starts, but the Cubs will try a different approach this time around by not using him in relief between starts and giving him a side day of work. Russell made two relief appearances between his April 12 and April 20 starts.

Bullpen bits

After pitching a career-high 31/3 innings Friday, right-hander Jeff Stevens was swapped with Class AAA Iowa right-hander Justin Berg to add a fresh arm to the relief corps.

Berg split the last two seasons between Iowa and the Cubs, going 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in 52 big-league appearances. He was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA for Iowa this month.

◆ Left-hander Sean Marshall was charged with an unearned run in the seventh after catcher Geovany Soto committed an error in the inning. That ended Marshall’s streak of scoreless innings at 71/3.

◆ Right-hander Jeff Samardzija pitched 11/3 scoreless innings, striking out the side in the eighth.



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