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Ryan Dempster shows why he’s a keeper as Cubs top Giants, 2-1

Aramis Ramirez is swarmed by teammates after hitting walk-off single left field Wednesday give Cubs 2-1 wover Giants Wrigley Field.

Aramis Ramirez is swarmed by teammates after hitting a walk-off single to left field Wednesday to give the Cubs a 2-1 win over the Giants at Wrigley Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 19, 2011 7:23AM

This is why you don’t trade Ryan Dempster. Or Carlos Zambrano, even if you could.

It may be why you trade Carlos Pena.

Point is: After the Cubs spent 81/2 hours and 18 innings demonstrating the most reliable way to lose baseball games against even the lousiest lineup Tuesday, Dempster spent two crisp hours Wednesday night showing how to outlast a Cy Young winner and beat a World
Series champion.

It’s probably too late to make it matter much for this season, but Dempster’s three-hit pitching into the ninth inning — before Aramis Ramirez’s eventual two-out game-winner in the bottom of the ninth — helped beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1.

And it’s exactly where the Cubs’ thinking starts as they make plans to fix by next season what went wrong this year. Pitching is where all their plans for this year ended — in that 8-24, 6.82 ERA heap at the back of the rotation.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and top advisers, including Greg Maddux, already have spent the early part of the week meeting to discuss the roster and possible moves as they look toward the July  31 non-waiver trade deadline and beyond.

And barring a shocking change of thought, you can forget about the idea of shopping Dempster, Zambrano or the latest chic suggestion, Carlos Marmol, even after Marmol blew a save in the ninth inning Wednesday.

As if the Cubs’ brass didn’t
already know it, the only way out of this fifth-place mess they’re in is to pitch their way out of it. And given the rare commodity that good pitching is on the trade market — and the thin upcoming free-agent market for starting pitching — they have to start holding on to the reliable big-league starters they have.

‘‘I think we all look at the last couple years that the starting pitching in the game is valued as a premium like it never has been,” Hendry said. ‘‘You have to be real careful. . . . We’re not only going to have to pitch the rest of this year, but you’re going to have to pitch next year. And you don’t replace quality starting pitching overnight.’’

Nobody knows that more than this year’s Cubs after losing fourth-starter Randy Wells (forearm) for a month and a half and Andrew Cashner (shoulder) for nearly three months and counting.

‘‘Everybody that goes through what we just went through will tell you how hard it is to replace that,’’ said Hendry, who released veteran left-hander Doug Davis on Wednesday after Davis went 1-7 with a 6.50 ERA in nine starts.

Dempster, whose career-worst April contributed to the team’s
early problems, has a 3.11 ERA since then and showed again Wednesday why he was the Opening Day

‘‘Sometimes your job as a veteran player is to not only go out there and do your job, but also to help younger players learn how to handle things up here,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘Sometimes learning how to deal with failure is just as important as experiencing success.’’

Dempster outdueled two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, allowing two hits in eight scoreless innings before he gave up a leadoff double to pinch-hitter Pat Burrell in the ninth with a 1-0 lead.

With only 83 pitches, a less-than-thrilled Dempster was lifted for Marmol at that point.

‘‘I know he wants to finish that thing,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Deep down I don’t want to lose him that game.’’

Marmol eventually gave up the game-tying single to Emmanuel Burriss before Ramirez came off the bench against red-hot reliever Sergio Romo to line a two-out, 0-2 single to left, driving home Tony Campana from third with the winner. The speedy Campana originally reached base on an infield single.

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