Chicago (54-68) may be fifth in the NL Central and headed toward missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season, but the club has won 12 of 15 with eight of those victories coming on the road.
Zambrano was placed on the disqualified list a day later, but recently said he was frustrated after a poor performance and wants “to keep pitching for the Cubs.”
While the rest of that episode is yet to unfold, Dempster (10-8, 4.70 ERA) takes the mound looking to keep the Cubs focused on the field after they beat the Astros 4-3 Monday.
The veteran right-hander is on the verge of winning four starts in a row for the first time since May 1-17, 2000, with Florida. He won four consecutive decisions over six starts with Chicago from April 3-30, 2008.
Dempster’s current three-game winning streak includes a 2.84 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 19 innings while holding opponents to a .206 average.
He was impressive again Thursday, yielding one run and three hits while fanning six in seven innings of a 4-3 win over Washington.
Dempster has won two of his last three starts at Houston despite compiling a 4.82 ERA with five homers allowed. He gave up four runs with nine strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 win in his most recent visit April 11.
Geovany Soto(notes) is looking to continue his hot hitting versus the Astros (38-84). He’s 8 for 13 with three doubles, a homer and five RBIs in the last three meetings. Soto had three hits, including a pair of doubles, with two RBIs on Monday to extend the Cubs’ winning streak over Houston to four.
“It was a nice night for Soto,” manager Mike Quade said.
Houston has dropped seven in a row for its longest slide since an eight-game losing streak from April 27-May 4, 2010.
The right-hander hasn’t won at Minute Maid Park since holding the Cubs to one run in seven innings of an 11-2 victory April 12. He’s 0-7 with a 5.60 ERA in 10 starts since.
He hasn’t been much better overall, going 0-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 10 starts since beating the Dodgers on June 17.
Myers allowed three runs in 7 2-3 innings of an 8-5, 10-inning loss at Arizona on Thursday.