Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 10:33 a.m.
With a pair of wins over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs' second series has already gone better than their first. They hope to see a similar improvement in Ryan Dempster's second start.
Dempster looks to put a rough opening-day outing behind him Wednesday afternoon and lead the Cubs to a three-game home sweep of the Diamondbacks, who send Armando Galarraga to the mound for his NL debut.
Chicago (3-2) capped its first series by blowing a one-run, ninth-inning lead in a 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh, but has bounced back against Arizona. Randy Wells tossed six strong innings Monday in a 4-1 win, then Andrew Cashner held the Diamondbacks to a run and two hits Tuesday before leaving because of shoulder tightness in the sixth inning.
The Cubs' bullpen coughed up a three-run lead in the seventh, but Marlon Byrd's RBI double in the bottom of the inning - his third hit - gave them the lead back for good in a 6-5 victory.
"It was great to see us fight back, but we're here to fight back and win," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "There's no consolation. The object is to win the game, we have to execute better."
Chicago will be looking for a ninth consecutive win over Arizona (1-3) on Wednesday, but that will likely require a better effort from Dempster (0-1, 8.10 ERA) than he provided on opening day. The right-hander held Pittsburgh scoreless through four innings Friday, but gave up a grand slam in the fifth and two more runs before exiting with two outs in the seventh en route to a 6-3 loss.
"When it's 4-2 and you're right in the game and you give up the add-on runs, those usually end up putting you away for the rest of the game," Dempster said. "They scored all six of their runs with two outs. I have to do a better job."
Dempster hasn't pitched well often against Arizona. He's 2-6 with a 6.35 ERA in 13 career starts, though one of those wins came July 7 when he allowed three runs in five innings at Chase Field.
Shortstop Stephen Drew, who has yet to start this season because of a lower abdominal strain, is 4 for 8 against Dempster, but his teammates haven't had much success. Justin Upton, Chris Young and Kelly Johnson are a combined 4 for 29 (.138) versus Dempster.
The Cubs haven't had too many looks at Galarraga (0-0, 0.00), who makes his Arizona debut after coming over from Detroit in the offseason.
The right-hander, best known for throwing a near-perfect game with the Tigers in early June, wound up 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA and struggled at season's end. Galarraga lost his last four starts, surrendering six homers in 21 2-3 innings and posting a 7.89 ERA.
He wasn't much better in spring training with Arizona, going 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA, but still beat out Aaron Heilman for the fifth starter's spot. Gibson could have skipped Galarraga's first turn after Sunday's snowout in Colorado, but decided to stick with him.
"I've been watching all his bullpens," Gibson told the Diamondbacks' official website, "and he's been throwing the ball better and better. I think it's important to have Armando throw right now."
Galarraga gave up four runs over six innings in a 6-5 victory over Chicago on June 25, 2009, his only start against the Cubs. He has never pitched at Wrigley Field.
Chicago first baseman Carlos Pena is day to day with a right thumb sprain. The Cubs might be inclined to rest him for a second straight day after fill-in Tyler Colvin hit a three-run homer Tuesday.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.