The Chicago Cubs have finally provided some offense for their starters, which is a good sign for the beleaguered Ryan Dempster.
Looking to end a 17-start winless streak, Dempster will take the mound for the Cubs on Wednesday as they go for a sweep of the San Diego Padres.
Chicago (17-32) will be trying to win three in a row for the first time this season and is going for its first sweep at home in nearly a year. The Cubs ended a 12-game losing streak with an 11-7 victory in the series opener Monday and won 5-3 on Tuesday as Alfonso Soriano homered for the second straight game.
While the Cubs averaged 2.8 runs during their skid, their offense has put them in position for their first three-game sweep at home since July 22-24 against Houston.
If Soriano, who has hit all seven of his home runs over the last 14 games, can keep it up at the plate, the Cubs might be able to finally help get Dempster (0-3, 2.14 ERA) his first win.
"Right now I feel so good and am happy to help the team win," said Soriano, batting .320 over the last 14 games.
Dempster could use the support. The right-hander hasn't won since defeating Washington on Aug. 11, going 0-9 with a 3.61 ERA in 17 starts with the Cubs averaging 2.2 runs over that span.
They've failed to score any during his last two starts. Dempster gave up one run in 7 1-3 innings of a 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday - the sixth time in eight starts this season he has allowed two or fewer runs.
The last Cubs starter to go 18 starts without a win was Danny Jackson, who went 20 from June 19, 1991-May 31, 1992.
Dempster is 8-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 13 starts versus the Padres (17-34). He's won his last two against them at Wrigley Field, most recently in 2009.
A couple of Padres have had Dempster's number. Chris Denorfia is 6 for 10, Yonder Alonso 6 for 9 and Carlos Quentin 5 for 12.
Quentin had three hits, including a double and a home run, Tuesday. After being acquired from the White Sox in the offseason, Quentin spent the first two months on the disabled list following arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He had a double in his season debut Monday.
The Padres have dropped a season-high five straight and eight of nine. It's their longest skid since losing nine in a row Aug. 24-Sept. 3.
Anthony Bass (2-5, 3.55) will take the ball for the Padres on Wednesday. He gave up six runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-1 loss to the Mets on Friday, snapping a three-start stretch in which he allowed two or fewer earned runs.
The right-hander pitched well in his only appearance against the Cubs last season but didn't receive a decision after allowing one run in five innings of a 6-2 defeat Sept. 27.