Dempster dominates to earn long-awaited win

Dempster dominates to earn long-awaited win

Dempster dominates to earn long-awaited win
MILWAUKEE -- The last time Ryan Dempster won a game, Carlos Marmol was the closer, Kerry Wood was setting him up, Aramis Ramirez was batting third, followed by Carlos Pena and Marlon Byrd, Theo Epstein was with the Red Sox, Jed Hoyer with the Padres, and Dale Sveum was the Brewers' hitting coach.

A lot has changed since Aug. 11, 2011.

In Dempster's last 18 starts since that date, the Cubs had averaged 2.37 runs of support. On Tuesday, he got more than that in the first inning.

Dempster and the Cubs could finally celebrate a "W" as Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer, Bryan LaHair added a solo shot and pinch-hitter Jeff Baker hit a two-run blast to help post a 10-0 victory over the Brewers, ending their road losing streak at 11 games.

"This was a big win for us -- we needed that," Dempster said.

A loss would have given the Cubs their longest road skid in franchise history at 12. Instead, the streak was snapped at 11 games, which matched the club's all-time mark, set June 18-29, 1954.

"We have to be more consistent," Soriano said. "We'll see what happens tomorrow. I hope from tonight's game, we can get something going."

It's been even longer for Dempster (1-3). This was his first victory since last Aug. 11, a span of 18 winless starts in which he was 0-9. The right-hander faced the minimum through five, and Cody Ransom spoiled any thoughts of a perfect game with a leadoff single in the sixth.

"I was thinking about a perfect game, for sure," Dempster said. "I'm not an idiot. I knew I didn't have anybody on base. It's the second best thing, a win. Five innings is five innings. You don't get too worried about it."

"It probably would've been a perfect game if [Paul] Maholm didn't go put a jacket on," said Sveum, the Cubs' manager. "That changed the whole atmosphere in the dugout."

And ballplayers say they're not superstitious.

The Brewers totaled three hits over seven innings off Dempster, who was facing the right team to get off the schneid. He's now 16-6 in his career against the Brewers.

"For some reason, Miller Park, against the Brewers, he does a heck of a job," said Sveum, who saw a lot of those wins while in the Brewers' dugout. "I had to witness a lot of it."

"[Dempster's] last couple of outings, we've done pretty good," Milwaukee's Corey Hart said, "but you know going in that if he's on that day, he's going to be pretty stingy with the hits. He's like some of our guys, that if they get a big lead like that, they calm down and their stuff ends up working better."

Soriano got things started in the first. With one out against Yovani Gallardo (4-5), Starlin Castro singled and David DeJesus walked to set up Soriano's ninth home run, an opposite-field shot.

"I think if you look at his home runs through his career, there's not very many that go in that spot," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "[Gallardo] threw him a lot of good curveballs and thought that [Soriano] would get off the fastball, and he didn't."

It marks the eighth straight series in which Soriano has homered, the longest stretch by a Cubs player since Derrek Lee and Corey Patterson both did so in 2004. Soriano also has nine home runs in his last 20 games, starting May 15, which is more than any other National League player.

LaHair made it 4-0 with a leadoff homer in the fourth, his 11th of the season and first since May 15.

What's been missing have been add-on runs, and the Cubs did just that in the fifth and scored three more in the eighth, including big RBI singles by Steve Clevenger and Darwin Barney.

Castro finished with three hits and was flawless in the field one day after a mental lapse cost the Cubs a run in San Francisco. Sveum and Castro met before the game.

"It helped me a lot because he talked to me," Castro said of his conversation with the manager. "I listened to him. It's my fault. He said, 'It's a new day, don't think about it, don't let it happen again.'"

Soriano also talked to Castro.

"Sometimes when you have confidence, you forget the part of the game that's more important, the mental [part]," Soriano said. "He has the ability, the physical [part]. The most important thing is mental. ... I talked to him and said, 'You have big talent, but you have to be strong mentally in game situations day by day. You're here to play 162 games, and it's one game at a time. You cannot make those mistakes.'"

The Cubs won despite striking out a season-high 14 times.

"I'll take 14 strikeouts and score 10 runs, however it happens," Sveum said. "Sometimes you just figure outs are outs, as long as you're scoring. Obviously, you don't want to strike out that many times, but when you're scoring and getting big hits, that changes everything around."

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.