Dempster has made that decision look pretty good so far.
Dempster still hasn’t lost in 2008, and on Wednesday night he’ll try to help the Cubs avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season when they continue a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
He was a successful starter earlier in his career with Florida, but the last few times Dempster (3-0, 2.90 ERA) had been tried as a starter hadn’t gone well. He was 3-7 with a 6.71 ERA in 20 starts with Cincinnati in 2003, then began 2005 in the Cubs’ rotation.
But he went just 1-3 with a 5.35 ERA in those six starts with Chicago (16-10), and then spent the remainder of the last three seasons as the team’s closer.
His return to the rotation, though, couldn’t be going much better in 2008. Dempster has lasted at least six innings in four of his first five starts, and made it through seven on Friday in Washington, allowing just two earned runs.
He didn’t figure in the decision in the Cubs’ 5-3 loss.
“I tried to keep myself calm and go out there and make pitches and go as deep as I could,” Dempster told the team’s official Web site. “I felt I could’ve done a better job of giving us a chance to win the game.”
Dempster has already beaten Milwaukee (15-11) once this season, when he went six innings and allowed two runs - one earned - in Chicago’s first win of the year, 6-3 on April 3.
The Cubs had received four straight impressive outings from their starters heading into Tuesday. But Jason Marquis gave up five runs in five innings, and the Brewers had four players with three hits apiece in their 10-7 win, their third in four games against their NL Central rivals this season.
“We need to turn it around,” said Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, who hit his eighth homer. “We don’t want this streak to continue. We were playing so well, it’s a little disappointing to fall back. You have to dust yourself off and try to get hot again.”
Lee is hitting .352 with three homers and nine RBIs at Wrigley against Milwaukee since the start of 2007.
The Brewers had dropped five of eight before Tuesday’s game, but got a nice boost to their lineup with the addition of center fielder Mike Cameron, who signed with Milwaukee in the offseason.
It was Cameron’s first game in a Brewers’ uniform, as he began the season serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive twice for a banned stimulant while with San Diego.
It didn’t take Cameron long to contribute. He had three hits, including a two-run single in the seventh to break open the game.
“It was good to get that first one out of the way,” Cameron said. “After that, it kind of goes on cruise control, back to normal and everything. It was real good tonight.”
Jeff Suppan (1-0, 3.48) will be on the mound Wednesday for Milwaukee, and he’s coming off his best start of the year, even if it was in a game the Brewers lost.
He pitched seven innings and allowed one run on Thursday as Milwaukee fell 3-1 to Philadelphia.
Suppan might find better results in Chicago. In his last six starts at Wrigley Field, he’s 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA, but he’ll have to be careful when he faces Lee. The Cubs’ slugger is 18-for-39 (.462) with four homers in his career against Suppan.