Atlanta (32-33) at Chicago (41-24)

Fog Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed Jun 11, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Ryan Dempster has played a key role in the Chicago Cubs’ success at home this season.

The former closer-turned-starter looks to remain perfect at Wrigley Field while helping the Cubs to a 10th consecutive home victory and continue the Atlanta Braves’ road struggles Wednesday night.

Coming off a 4-3 road trip, Chicago (41-24) overcame an early three-run deficit for a 10-5 win on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game set. The outcome increased the Cubs’ major-league best home record to 27-8. They last lost at Wrigley 7-6 to Pittsburgh on May 17.

“It’s been fun for us and I’m sure it’s been a blast for the fans to come to the park every day,” said Dempster (7-2, 2.90 ERA), who looks to improve on his 7-0 mark in eight starts at Wrigley on Wednesday.

Atlanta (32-33), meanwhile, has lost four in a row on the road and overall while falling to 7-22 for the majors’ worst record away from home.

Geovany Soto hit a three-homer and Derrek Lee also homered while driving in two runs for Chicago, which trailed 3-0 after Greg Norton’s first-inning home run. The Cubs pounded out 12 hits to reach double-digit runs after scoring 12 runs in their previous five contests.

“You just feel like you’re never out of it. We’re tough and we’ve had a lot of come-from-behind wins this year,” Tuesday’s winning pitcher Ted Lilly said.

Dempster will try for his third consecutive winning decision Wednesday. He didn’t factor in the decision of a 5-4 victory at Los Angeles on Thursday after giving up three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings.

“That’s a game where you have to be better than that,” Dempster told the team’s official Web site. “You have to keep moving along, keep throwing strikes.”

The right-hander is 1-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 13 starts against the Braves, but hasn’t opened against them since 2003 while with Cincinnati.

Atlanta hopes to have NL batting leader Chipper Jones back in the lineup Tuesday after a small quadriceps tear forced him to sit out Sunday’s game with Philadelphia and settle for a walk in a pinch-hitting role Monday.

“I’m hoping maybe (to) be back in there (Wednesday),” said Jones, who is batting .420 on the season. “It’s better. I still can’t run the way I need to. I wouldn’t be able to run the bases. I don’t know what kind of range I would have out at third base.”

Omar Infante went 2-for-3 with an RBI in Jones’ place Monday, while Yunel Escobar added two hits for the Braves, who have been outscored 26-13 in their last four contests. Escobar is 4-for-9 with two doubles and two runs scored in his last two games.

Jeff Bennett (0-3, 3.47) will take the mound for Atlanta after scheduled starter Jair Jurrjens sprained his right ankle leaving Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. Bennett is 0-1 with a 3.07 ERA in three spot starts this season for the Braves. His most recent start was an 7-2 loss April 23 to the Marlins, when he allowed three runs and five hits in six innings.

Bennett, who turned 28 on Tuesday, has made 27 appearances out of the bullpen this season. He has not pitched since Saturday, when he gave up two runs on two hits in one inning against the Phillies.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Bennett LAD vs. R. Dempster ChC
3-7 Record 17-6
3.70 ERA 2.96
68 K 187
47 BB 76
1.37 WHIP 1.21


Wednesday, Jun 11