Cubs 2, Phillies 1

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Ryan Dempster earned his toughest save.

Dempster pitched out of his own bases-loaded jam in the ninth, Carlos Zambrano tossed eight scoreless innings and Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run single in the eighth to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.

Dempster walked four straight batters with one out before striking out the last two for his 15th save in 17 chances.

“Wow! I apologize for putting people on the edge of their seats back in Chicago,” said Dempster, a converted starter who became the Cubs’ closer in May. “That was the most stressful one I’ve been through.”

Zambrano (8-4) allowed four hits and improved to 4-0 with a 1.49 ERA in his last seven starts. The right-hander hasn’t lost since he gave up eight runs in 1 2-3 innings against Milwaukee on June 22.

The Cubs snapped a two-game skid and moved two games over .500.

“It was tough and exciting, but we got it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That would’ve been a devastating loss.”

Dempster retired Kenny Lofton to start the ninth, then walked Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. Ryan Howard walked to force in a run, but Dempster struck out David Bell and pinch-hitter Tomas Perez to end it.

The right-hander gave a mini fist-pump as he walked off the mound.

“I wanted to be aggressive. I didn’t get the job done,” Bell said of his at-bat.

Vicente Padilla (5-10) gave up two runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings. The right-hander has pitched well since nearly losing his spot in the rotation last month. He’s 2-2 with a 2.23 ERA after going 3-8 with a 6.96 ERA in his first 11 starts.

“He’s kept us in every game. He’s been outstanding,” Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee said.

Matt Lawton, playing his first game for the Cubs since coming over from Pittsburgh in a trade on Sunday, started the eighth with a single and went to second on Jerry Hairston’s sacrifice.

Padilla intentionally walked Derrek Lee, and Jeromy Burnitz walked to load the bases.

Ugueth Urbina came in and threw an 0-1 pitch to Ramirez that bounced to the brick wall behind the plate and right back to catcher Mike Lieberthal. Lawton held at third, but Burnitz was picked off first base for the second out.

Ramirez hit the next pitch just past third baseman Bell’s glove to drive in both runners.

“I like to think I make that play most of the time,” Bell said.

The Phillies had a runner on third with one out in the seventh, but failed to score. Abreu started the inning with a double and went to third on Burrell’s groundout. Zambrano then retired Howard on a checked-swing tapper to the mound and got Bell on a bouncer to shortstop to end the inning.

“I was ahead in the count most of the time,” Zambrano said. “I threw strikes and I was aggressive.”

Zambrano would’ve started the ninth, but his left toe was bothering him. He doesn’t expect the injury to prevent him from making his next start.

Notes

Howard and Jimmy Rollins extended their hitting streaks to eight games. Utley’s nine-game run ended. … Lawton went 2-for-5 with a run while batting leadoff. … It was Padilla’s longest outing since he threw eight scoreless innings against Florida in September 2003. … Lee was 1-for-3 with two intentional walks.

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