Cubs escape rain, start four-game set in Arizona

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Cubs escape rain, start four-game set in Arizona

Thursday, April 28, 2011Posted: 10:25 a.m.

Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs are glad to be headed to some warm weather, but their next opponent could be difficult for Ryan Dempster.

The struggling Dempster has a poor history as a starter against the Arizona Diamondbacks heading into Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at Chase Field.

Chicago (10-13) just completed a homestand that was scheduled for 10 games. Only eight were played after two weather-related postponements, including Wednesday's finale of a three-game set against Colorado. The Cubs, losers of three straight, did not have one game rained out last season.

"We know the conditions are going to be better, you know what to expect in Arizona," manager Mike Quade said. "It can wear on you when you get 10 days of this kind of weather. We'd love to have the conditions we're going get (in Arizona) right here at home. Warm weather will not be frowned upon."

Quade opted to push Casey Coleman's start to Sunday to keep the rest of his rotation in line. That means Dempster (1-2, 7.63 ERA) will try to put aside both his recent woes and his problems against the Diamondbacks (10-13) on Thursday.

The right-hander allowed seven runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings Saturday and did not get a decision in a 10-8 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He surrendered three homers to bring his season total to eight in 30 2-3 innings.

"He's just not executing his pitches," Quade told the Cubs' official website.

Dempster is 2-7 with a 6.24 ERA in 14 career starts against Arizona. He yielded five runs over seven innings in a 6-4 loss April 6 at Wrigley Field - the Cubs' only loss in their last nine meetings with the Diamondbacks.

Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra is 5 for 8 against Dempster, and shortstop Stephen Drew is 4 for 8. Justin Upton has not joined in that success, going 2 for 15 off Dempster.

Arizona center fielder Chris Young hit two homers and drove in three runs in Wednesday's 8-4 home loss to Philadelphia. He's got six homers and 15 RBIs in 12 home games.

The Diamondbacks missed a chance to sweep the Phillies after Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson turned in strong starts in the first two games of the series. Joe Saunders allowed six runs over 5 2-3 innings Wednesday.

"You are not going to pitch good in every game," manager Kirk Gibson said. "Give them some credit. They put some good swings on us and hit good pitches as well."

For the opener of this series, Gibson will give the ball to Barry Enright (0-2, 6.65), who is 0-7 with a 7.40 ERA in his last nine starts. He gave up season highs of five runs and 12 hits over 5 2-3 innings Saturday in a 6-4 road loss to the New York Mets.

Enright is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against the Cubs. The right-hander did not receive a decision in a 6-5 loss at Wrigley on April 5, when he yielded four runs over six innings.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs, White Sox react to news of Jose Fernandez's death

Cubs, White Sox react to news of Jose Fernandez's death

The baseball world was rocked Sunday morning by the news that Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident at the age of 24.

"All of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez," Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He was one of our game's great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life."

Chicago baseball teams and players shared their own messages on Twitter after the news broke.

Born in Cuba, Fernandez had a long and dangerous journey defecting to the United States. Unsuccessful attempts to defects were followed by prison terms, and during his successful attempt, he rescued his mother from drowning after she fell overboard. He was only 15 years old at the time.

Fernandez, who won National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2013, was twice named an NL All Star, including this season. He had a sparkling 2.58 ERA in his four big league seasons. After dealing with injuries that limited him to 19 combined starts during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Fernandez was stellar this season, posting a 2.86 ERA and striking out a whopping 253 batters in 182 1/3 innings.

After locking up homefield advantage, Cubs flummoxed by Cardinals in blowout loss

After locking up homefield advantage, Cubs flummoxed by Cardinals in blowout loss

At the end of the day, a loss means essentially nothing for the Cubs right now.

But the Cubs also certainly don't want to hand games to their division rival as the St. Louis Cardinals make a run at the National League wild card spots.

After the Cubs clinched homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs with the Washington Nationals' loss Friday night, they had no answer for the Cardinals in a 10-4 loss in front of 40,785 fans at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon on national TV.

A few disturbing trends popped their heads above ground for the Cubs again Saturday, including the offense's struggles at manufacturing runs, Jason Hammel getting shelled and some bullpen woes.

The Cubs had no trouble putting runners on base against Cardinals phenom Alex Reyes, but they had a tough time plating those guys, cashing in only once with a runner on third base in six tries over the first four innings.

In two of those spots, a Cubs hitter came up with only one out, but failed to bring the run home as Addison Russell struck out in the first inning and Kris Bryant popped out to shallow left in the second.

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Hammel recorded only seven outs and was tagged for six runs on six hits and a walk, watching his season ERA rise nearly 30 points to 3.83. The veteran right-hander fell to 15-10 as he attempts to make a push for one of the Cubs' final postseason roster spots.

"Honestly, I would love to be a part of [the playoff roster], as the rest of the guys on the team would love to," Hammel said. "I know there's only a certain amount of spots, so if I'm handed the ball, I'll be ready. That's the way I'm gonna view it.

"Obviously you wanna be a part of something special like that, but I think everybody here has already been a part of something special to get to this point. We're all very proud. We still got eight regular season ballgames left to build some momentum. Whether I'm on the roster or not, I'm still gonna enjoy it."

Hammel was also clearly on the wrong end of some bad luck Saturday, as the four runs he allowed in the first came via a check swing and a couple hits just out of the reach of his fielders. 

Joe Maddon won't put too much stock into one rough start in late September.

"I'm not too worried about a good or bad outing right now. I'm not," he said. "Pretty much, you know who the guy is. You know if the guy's go this stuff going on or if he doesn't. ... The greater body of work matters."

Setup man Hector Rondon struggled in his appearance, needing 26 pitches to notch just one out, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk before handing the ball off to Felix Pena.

Of course, it's also just one game and one loss for a team with 98 victories and hopes of the World Series.

Rondon had been nearly unhittable since returning from the disabled list two weeks ago and the Cubs offense had been efficient and relentless in the past four games after Maddon's meeting with the hitters earlier in the week.

Maddon also used the blowout to get regulars like Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Russell out of the lineup to help keep them fresh for October.

After the game, Maddon chose to look on the bright side.

"Our starter had a tough day today; that's it. Otherwise we did some nice things," he said, referencing the solid offensive days from Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. "We had chances to score runs - runners on third, less than two outs - and we didn't fulfill that.

"We made their starter throw 115 pitches in five innings; I think that's a positive."

The Cubs will close out their season series with the Cardinals on another nationally-televised showdown Sunday night between Jon Lester and St. Louis ace Carlos Martinez.