In his next game at Wrigley on Saturday, Lilly will face his former team for the first time and try to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to their sixth victory in seven games.
After signing with the Cubs before the 2007 season, Lilly was a member of two NL Central Division-winning clubs and compiled 47 victories—three more than Carlos Zambrano(notes)—before being traded to Los Angeles on July 31.
“I love the thought of facing them, to pitch against my ex-teammates,” Lilly told the Cubs’ official website. “I’m pretty sure they are all itching to get in the box and hit one back at my face.”
After a rough start to this season, Lilly (1-2, 4.09 ERA) is hoping to build on his performance in a 4-2 win over Atlanta on Monday. The left-hander didn’t allow a runner past second base while giving up four hits over seven innings.
“I was able to locate my fastball. For me, that’s the key to all my other pitches being effective,” said Lilly, who had a 6.00 ERA in his first three starts.
“Since the San Francisco game (a 4-3 loss April 13), I’ve made some adjustments mechanically which have allowed me to repeat pitches more consistently.”
Lilly’s former teammate has struggled in his first four starts. Dempster (1-2, 6.84) gave up five runs over five innings Sunday in Colorado, but did not get a decision in a 9-5 defeat.
“I’ve just got to do a better job of making pitches and getting people out,” Dempster said. “It’s getting really old and really tired. I know they’re professional hitters on the other side.
“You have to tip your cap to them sometimes, but when you throw the ball over the middle of the plate too much, you don’t tip your cap to anybody. You look in the mirror and do a better job of that.”
Dempster might have a chance at a better outing against Los Angeles (11-10), as he hasn’t allowed an earned run over 22 innings while winning three consecutive matchups. The right-hander gave up three hits over eight innings of a 3-0 victory at Wrigley last season.
Dempster, though, could have trouble repeating those efforts against a lineup that’s averaged 7.7 runs over a season-best three straight wins. The Dodgers have batted .316 in those games after averaging an NL-worst 3.2 runs in their first 18.
“I feel real good right now,” said Uribe, batting .435 (10 for 23) in his last six games after opening 7 for 49. “Before I wasn’t hitting. Now I’m helping my team.”
Ethier is 7 for 17 (.412) with four doubles against Dempster, and Uribe is 4 for 12 (.333) with a homer.
The Cubs (9-10) will try to avoid a season-worst third consecutive defeat while keeping the Dodgers from within one win of tying the all-time series. Since the beginning of the 1890 season, Chicago is 1,021-1,019 against that franchise.