Despite run support, Dempster still can't get a win

763176.png

Despite run support, Dempster still can't get a win

ST. LOUIS -- Alfonso Soriano singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Chicago Cubs sent the St. Louis Cardinals to their fourth straight loss at home with a 6-4 victory on Monday night.Bryan LaHair had three hits for the Cubs, including a two-run homer - his ninth overall and fourth against the Cardinals - to break a 1-for-14 slump. Chicago's runs in the 8th and 9th innings came too late to make a winner of starter Ryan Dempster, whose winless streak reached 15 starts dating to last August.Shawn Camp (2-1) allowed one hit in two innings of work and Rafael Dolis worked the ninth for his fourth save in six chances for the Cubs, who won for only the fourth time in their last 13 games in St. Louis despite stranding a season-worst 14 runners.Jake Westbrook became the latest Cardinals starter who couldn't pitch deep into the game, allowing four runs on 11 hits in five innings. Of the other four pitchers during this run through the St. Louis rotation, only rookie Lance Lynn lasted six innings.Dempster gave up four hits over the first five innings before surrendering four runs on five hits in the sixth that tied it 4-4. Three of Dempster's first five innings were perfect and he retired 10 of 11 batters from the second to the fifth inning - totaling just 27 pitches.Soriano's go-ahead RBI single off Mitchell Boggs (0-1) salvaged the Cubs' eighth after the Cardinals turned an unusual 3-5-4 double play earlier in the inning. First baseman Lance Berkman fielded Starlin Castro's popped-up bunt and threw to third to force David DeJesus, then David Freese's relay to first was there in plenty of time to get Castro.The Cubs still had Tony Campana on second, and after La Hair was intentionally walked, Soriano's first hit in 10 career at-bats against Boggs - seven of them strikeouts - gave them the lead.Freese's wild throw to first in a bid for a double play on another bunt allowed an insurance run to score in the ninth against Boggs. The Cardinals committed a season-high three errors, two in the ninth.Dempster entered with a majors-best 1.02 ERA, the lowest for a Cubs pitcher winless through the first five starts since the NL began tracking earned runs in 1912. He is 0-1 mainly because the Cubs have totaled just eight runs combined in his starts. The Cardinals got to Dempster after the Cubs' four-run sixth, and the right-hander exited with a 1.74 ERA.LaHair's two-run homer was the highlight of the Cubs' four-run fifth, and he added a pair of singles and his first career steal in the seventh.Molina's two-run double and Skip Schumaker's tying RBI single were the key hits in the Cardinals' four-run sixth. Schumaker is a career .431 hitter against Dempster, the best ever against the right-hander with a minimum of 30 at-bats, according to STATS LLC.

One of the early hits in the rally was Matt Holliday's liner off the left-field wall that gave Soriano a perfect rebound to hold him to a single.Both teams had a three-hit inning without scoring early. The Cardinals loaded the bases in the second, the last two infield hits, before Westbrook struck out for the third out. The Cubs topped that in the third, getting three hits plus a walk that added up to zilch because David DeJesus was an easy out trying to steal after a leadoff hit and Ian Stewart struck out on a pitch near the dirt on a full count for the third out.NOTES: The Cardinals' Carlos Beltran, who entered with six homers in six games and a NL-leading 13, did not start due to knee soreness. He's 6 for 12 against Dempster with a homer and three RBIs. ... The three-hit game was LaHair's third of the season, matching his career best. He has reached base safely in 31 consecutive games and is 8 for 19 with eight RBIs against the Cardinals. ... The Cubs have scored three or fewer runs when Dempster was in the game 13 times during his winless drought.Box scoreCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Bobby Portis relishing his chance as starter

Bobby Portis relishing his chance as starter

A milk carton was a more likely place to find Bobby Portis than on a basketball floor playing big minutes for the majority of his second season.

He could often be found in the locker room before games and listening to the older players talk to the media afterward, trying his best to fight off the frustration and admitted confusion that comes with the regression of not getting playing time.

When Portis did play, he looked nothing like the confident and borderline cocky rookie who often referred to himself in the third person in interviews. He didn't know when he would play, how long he would be out there or even worse, what was expected of him.

The trade of Taj Gibson at the deadline — preceded by the temporary benching of Nikola Mirotic — put Portis back in the spotlight and he's intent on making the most of it during the last 23 games of the regular season.

"It's fun. You know go out there every day just to know that it's another day I'm going to play," Portis said. "That's the biggest thing for me. I feel like that's already a confidence builder right there, just coming into every game knowing that I'm in the rotation. It's great fun to go out there and play."

It's no secret the front office the Bulls want Portis to succeed and not add him to the ledger of some of the first-round disappointments that can be recalled in recent memory.

The trade of Gibson was certainly underlined with the mantra that Portis should play and the way was going to be cleared for Portis, one way or another. Scoring 19 with eight rebounds against the Celtics on national TV right before the All-Star break probably gave Portis enough validation considering he was thrust into the starting lineup at power forward soon after.

"I don't care about nobody judging me," Portis said. "At the end of the day I'm going to play basketball. That's my job. I'm going to go out there and do the things I do well. I feel like sometimes people misconstrue just because you don't play and they can say some things like that. I don't really care about anybody judging me at this point. At the end of the day I'm still going to be Bobby Portis at the end of the day."

Well, clearly, the third person thing hasn't left the second-year forward, but he said he stayed in the gym waiting on his opportunity, even through a quick but confusing stint to Hoffman Estates to the D-League.

"Just being hungry. Humble and hungry," Portis said. "You know one thing I always strive off of is being humble and hungry. That kept me sane. My mom, I talked to her a lot. She kept me grounded. It's kind of tough not playing and going through the season knowing that some games you might play, you might not play. You know it's about waiting your turn, but at the same time you have to keep working."

Being the fifth big in Fred Hoiberg's rotation didn't leave him a lot of room for Portis to get much run or even find a rhythm, and like many others who've found themselves out of the rotation unexpectedly, it was without much of an explanation.

"Nah, I didn't really know what I could do to get minutes," Portis said. "The one thing that I know that I always do is just come in here every day, work as hard as I can, let the dominos fall how they fall. Every day I come in here, just bust my butt for some minutes, but sometimes it wouldn't work."

Now that he has found himself into Hoiberg's good graces, his improving range has allowed both units to play similiarly.

"I think Bobby has done a real nice job," Hoiberg said. "He was a huge part of our win against Boston in our game right before the break. He just goes out and plays with so much energy. What I really like about him right now is he has no hesitation on his shot. He's stepping into his 3 with good rhythm."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bears will not use franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery

alshon-stl-227.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bears will not use franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Friedell (ESPNChicago.com) and Danny Parkins (670 The Score) join David Kaplan on the panel.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Bears will not use the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery for the second straight year. Is that the right move? And what will Ryan Pace do with all of his team’s cap space?

The Bulls are winning but their new, young point guard doesn’t know his role. Will anything ever change with the Bulls?

That plus Scott Paddock drops by to recapping a thrilling Daytona 500 finish.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: