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Ryan Dempster stars on mound, at plate in Cubs’ win over Red Sox

Ryan Dempster extended his scoreless-innings streak 22 Friday. He also tripled second singled fourth. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Ryan Dempster extended his scoreless-innings streak to 22 on Friday. He also tripled in the second and singled in the fourth. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 17, 2012 12:50PM



Ryan Dempster keeps pushing away thoughts about his days as a Cub coming to an end.

Even as team president Theo Epstein acknowledged that the pace of trade inquiries ‘‘is starting to pick up,’’ Dempster tried to bring the conversation back to the 3-0 victory Friday over the Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field.

He talked of how well his teammates played during his seven innings of scoreless ball — and how he won his bet with speedster Tony Campana over which one would get a triple first this season.

‘‘I won. Imagine that,’’ said Dempster (3-3), who poked a fly into right field in the second inning that eluded Adrian Gonzalez. Dempster scored on David DeJesus’ single to give the Cubs a three-run lead.

Their first two runs came in the first inning with the help of three walks from Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2). The big blow was Steve Clevenger’s two-run double.

Dempster, who was the Cubs’ closer the last time the Red Sox visited in 2005, also singled. But his work on the mound was the story of the day. He extended his scoreless-innings streak to 22, allowing four hits and two walks and striking out three.

‘‘I don’t know how that even happens,’’ he said of his streak. ‘‘It’s inevitable you miss a pitch and someone hits it into the stands, or a guy is at second and all you think about is preserving the win.’’

But while he has been in command on the mound, Dempster knows all he can control about his future is giving the OK for his departure.

‘‘I’m not naive or oblivious to what’s going on,’’ he said of trade talk. ‘‘But if I focused on that, I wouldn’t be a very good teammate to those guys in there, and I wouldn’t be very good to myself.

‘‘Everyone knows I love it here. I’ve played here a long time. I’ve always said I wanted to finish my career here. This is the best place to play.’’

In winning his third consecutive start, Dempster lowered his ERA to 2.11.

‘‘He’s one of the most professional, hardworking people you’ll ever be around,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘When he steps on the mound, it’s all business, not trade rumors. It’s ‘How am I going to get this guy out.’ ’’

There is no way to tell whether Friday might have been Dempster’s last start at Wrigley Field, even though the non-waiver trade deadline is more than six weeks away.

‘‘I still think most of the calls are preliminary in nature, kind of feeling-out calls of ‘What are you looking for? What are you trying to do? Who might be available?’ That kind of thing,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘Late July is when most of this stuff happens, but you always find a couple of teams that will press the issue. More teams are in contention [because of the added wild card], fewer teams completely out of it.’’

The Cubs are out of it, which is why Dempster could be playing in October somewhere else.

‘‘Whatever it ends up being, I’ll continue to do what I do,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t know what tomorrow holds, so just enjoy today’s win.’’



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