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Cubs’ Ryan Dempster could use a win at Wrigley now

The Reds’ Drew Stubbs steals second first inning Saturday Wrigley Field beating throw Blake DeWitt who made rare start for

The Reds’ Drew Stubbs steals second in the first inning Saturday at Wrigley Field, beating the throw to Blake DeWitt, who made a rare start for the Cubs. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 27, 2011 12:34AM



The tide may have turned for veteran Ryan Dempster in his last start Tuesday at Los Angeles when he pitched a season-high seven innings, allowing one run and six hits. He didn’t get a decision in the Cubs’ 4-1 victory, but he may have helped calm concerns about his worrisome performances early in the season.

‘‘I’m just thinking about my next start,’’ he said of today’s game against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. ‘‘I want to build off it.’’

Dempster will try to end a personal five-game home losing streak which dates to last August. He is 0-5 with an 11.30 ERA in his last six Wrigley starts. This season, he’s 0-2 at home in three starts with a 7.91 ERA. On the road, he’s 1-1 with an 8.20 ERA in four starts. Dempster has allowed 34 earned runs, easily the most of any player in the National League.

Anniversary rest

When manager Mike Quade chose to give shortstop Starlin Castro his first day off Saturday to help him shake off a slump, he didn’t realize it was the one-year anniversary of Castro’s six-RBI major-league debut.

Castro’s sizzling start this season has been tempered by a 7-for-47 (.149) stretch in his last 11 games. Quade said Castro needed a mental respite more than a physical one.

‘‘The magnitude at this level makes it matter,’’ Quade said. ‘‘It’s a step-by-step process for young players. I think he’s seeing fewer strikes. They’re challenging him now. If the ball is in that [strike zone] square, he whacks the daylights out of it. So now [pitchers are saying], ‘Let’s see if we get it 4 inches away.’

‘‘He’s not putting extra pressure on himself. He’s just a kid who likes to swing the bat. It’s his next adjustment [in the majors]. As that gets better, watch out.’’

Castro hasn’t been discouraged.

‘‘I feel the same,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re pitching me different now. They don’t throw too many strikes. I’m staying with my approach and not swinging at bad pitches.’’

Quade said Castro’s progress in one year has been remarkable.

‘‘A young kid comes out of Class AA, sets the record for RBI [in a debut], to the cover of Sports Illustrated [this week]. It’s been a nice road, and it’s still a long road. He’s kept his head, and he’s pretty even-keeled.’’

Work opportunities

Castro’s day off also was intended to give Blake DeWitt a chance to play. DeWitt, who has only one other start this season, was at second base, with Darwin Barney moving to shortstop.

DeWitt homered in the fourth inning, his first since last Sept. 3.

Tyler Colvin also started in left field for Alfonso Soriano.



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