Cubs can't find a way to support Dempster

Cubs can't find a way to support Dempster

Cubs can't find a way to support Dempster
CHICAGO -- Ryan Dempster is still looking for his first win since last August. Kerry Wood is not only looking for a new glove and cap, but also a few breaks.

Dan Uggla hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning Tuesday night off Wood to lift the Braves to a 3-1 victory over the Cubs and Dempster, who remained winless in his last 14 starts.

With the game tied at 1 in the eighth, Michael Bourn singled off Wood (0-2), who then walked Martin Prado. Prado was forced at second on Freddie Freeman's fielder's choice. Wood then walked Brian McCann to load the bases, and after a visit from pitching coach Chris Bosio, Uggla singled to center.

"I made pretty good pitches tonight," Wood said. "The walk to McCann with a base open, I'm not going to give in to him. I made a good pitch, I thought, to Uggla and turned around and we had the shift on, and when things are going bad, you don't get breaks, and I didn't get any tonight. I'll be ready to go tomorrow."

Wood, 34, was making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list and now has given up seven runs on six hits and six walks over 4 1/3 innings in six games.

"The shoulder is great, and that's the frustrating thing," said Wood, who was sidelined with right shoulder fatigue. "I bounced back from the [cortisone] injection, and the shoulder feels great, stuff feels fine. I actually threw some good curveballs tonight for the first time in a while. It's all about results, and I didn't have any tonight."

The Cubs picked off McCann at second base to end the inning, and as Wood left the field, he threw his glove and cap into the seats in frustration. He chose not to address the incident.

"It's irrelevant," Wood said. "Why would you bring that up?"

"It's frustrating," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It doesn't matter if you're young or a veteran guy. If you give up a couple runs -- and he walked a couple guys -- it's frustrating."

If anyone should be throwing a fit, it's Dempster. He now has a 1.02 ERA in five quality starts. On Tuesday, he gave up one run over seven innings. He's well liked by his teammates and would easily win a Mr. Congenialty contest. But the Cubs just can't get him any runs.

The Cubs have scored eight runs while Dempster has been on the mound this year. This was the 13th time in Dempster's last 14 starts that Chicago has scored three or fewer runs, and the Cubs have tallied one or fewer in nine of those games.

"It's hard to believe a guy can have a [1.02 ERA] and not have a win yet in this league," Sveum said. "It was another dominating performance. It's a shame to be almost May 10 and not have a win with a [1.02 ERA]. It's tough. At times, we've had some tough late innings for him, and tonight, we couldn't muster up anything. I'm glad we scored one and he didn't get the loss."

Braves right fielder Jason Heyward tripled to right to lead off the fifth and scored on Tyler Pastornicky's sacrifice fly.

"I thought we all had good at-bats against [Dempster]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He just kept us off balance. The old guy reached back one time and struck out Bourn at 93 [mph]. He pitched most of the night at 88 and 89 [mph]. He did a [great] job keeping their team in the game."

Cubs center fielder Tony Campana singled to open the sixth and scored two outs later on Alfonso Soriano's opposite-field double to tie the game. Soriano also made a run-saving catch to end the fourth, robbing Chipper Jones, who lined the ball to the gap in left-center with two on and two outs.

But the games seem to be decided lately by the Cubs' bullpen. Carlos Marmol lost his job as the closer after blowing Dempster's last game against the Reds. Rookie Rafael Dolis and lefty James Russell now share the duties.

"We're not putting any games away early or getting any big leads," Sveum said. "We've played in so many close games and so many low-scoring games, [Dolis and Russell] need some days off."

Wood is healthy, Sveum said. At least, the right-hander has said he is. Dempster, obviously, is fine despite also missing time on the disabled list with a strained right quad. He didn't blame Wood.

"I know he's feeling good coming off the [disabled list]," Dempster said. "He's had a couple rough outings. He's as professional as anybody I've ever played with, and things will turn around real soon."

But Dempster could easily be 5-0.

"It's OK," Dempster said. "It's more of a bummer because we had a chance to win three in a row and a chance to win a series.

"We're playing good baseball and we're playing really hard. I think the teams on the other side of the field are recognizing that. Things are going to keep coming as long as we keep playing that way."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.