A crosstown letdown for Cubs, Dempster

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A crosstown letdown for Cubs, Dempster

You could hear the jet engines during the flyover. The visiting dignitaries from the NATO summit included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was the White Sox, the entire city and a national television audience at home watching.

The Cubs went quietly on Saturday night at Wrigley Field, losing 7-4 in a game that wasnt nearly that close. White Sox left-hander John Danks took a perfect game into the fifth inning, and the Cubs saved all their offense until the ninth.

A loss is a loss, Ryan Dempster said afterward. I dont really care whos watching. I dont like losing anytime. So if there was one person in the stands, or theres 40,000 people, to me, it means the same thing.

It just sucks to lose a ballgame.

Dempster is now winless in his last 16 starts, a streak that dates back to Aug. 16 of last year, and one of the few big names left on this team now that Kerry Wood has retired.

Dempster (0-2, 2.28) gave up back-to-back shots to Dayan Viciedo and A.J. Pierzynski in the third, and allowed four runs in six innings, for a team thats 10 games under .500 and doesnt have that kind of margin for error. These will be the growing pains.

I think theres just a tremendous thing here on the North Side with this staff and this management (team), Wood said. Im excited to watch for the future. (These) young guys here, the Barneys and Castros and Samardzijas and Russells and Campanas are starting the journey Im ending today. I look forward to the excitement of watching these guys grow and learn this game and ultimately bring a championship to this city that deserves it.

The Cubs roster is still in flux, with Welington Castillo dealing with a knee injury, Geovany Soto recovering from knee surgery and Koyie Hill coming over from the Cincinnati Reds organization for cash. There was Blake Parker leaving the game with a hamstring injury and Randy Wells coming up from Triple-A Iowa to take Woods spot in the bullpen.

Were running out of lockers, Dempster said. Thats probably the biggest thing. Maybe we should hurry up and dress up the rookies here pretty soon because we have a lot of em.

Its unfortunate. We got a lot of guys getting hurt not major things, but little things. We just got to find a way to battle through that and go out there and win ballgames.

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

What if… Cubs GM Jed Hoyer’s takeaways from epic World Series Game 7

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Michigan State gets big win to boost tourney hopes, while Wisconsin loses for fourth time in five games

 

 

 

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling found out at 8 o'clock this morning that he was starting for an ailing Corey Crawford. Considering he did this back in December for a few weeks, adjusting quick for one game was fine.

"It's kind of my job," Darling said.

And Darling, once again, did his job.

Darling stopped 30 of 32 shots and Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games. They're one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who made their splashy trade-deadline move in acquiring Martin Hanzal on Sunday. But the Blackhawks, thanks to veterans regaining their form, a top line finding its rhythm and youth consistently improving, are just rolling right along.

"We had a great start to the game. I thought Darls was excellent all night, great stretch there in the last 10 minutes where we fight through some tough shifts, particularly in the last couple of minutes in our end. But good win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the nice plays on the goals, it was kind of a comparable ending to the outdoor game: tied and about the same time they scored, we scored (tonight). Big two points for us."

Jonathan Toews scored his 16th of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winning goal with 5:20 remaining in regulation. Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.

The Blackhawks already knew they'd be without Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) for at least a day or two when they found out Crawford couldn't go this morning. As Quenneville said Darling was strong once again, denying the Blues all but twice (a 2-on-1 goal from Magnus Paajarvi and a power-play goal from Alex Pietrangelo).

Toews and Kane (power-play goal) staked the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead early before the Blues tied it in the second. But late in the third period Anisimov took the feed from Artemi Panarin to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

"I saw the puck all the way. It was easy to pick up," Anisimov said. "When you don't see the puck at the last moment and it comes, it's hard to receive and prepare for the next move. But I saw it all the way. Easy to prepare for the next move."

Speaking of next moves, do the Blackhawks make any more before the trade deadline. General manager Stan Bowman said on Friday, following the acquisition of Tomas Jurco, that he'll keep talking and listening but likes the group he has right now. If Bowman's made moves it's for what the Blackhawks have needed, not because of another team's trades. The Blackhawks like what they have right now. Winning nine of 10 and continuing to trend in the right direction, they should be careful not to disrupt what they've got going.

"I think we're, as we've said lately, trending the right way. We're playing solid. I think all four lines are contributing in every which way," Toews said. "I love our group right now. Everyone is getting better individually, contributing more and more and it's a lot of fun to see the way we're playing right now. We know that the ceiling is way higher and we can keep getting better too."