How it happened: The Cubs staked Ryan Dempster to an early lead in his return from the disabled list, scoring four first-inning runs off Mets starter Jonathon Niese. Dempster, who eased back into the rotation with five scoreless innings to extend his streak to 27, allowed four hits and struck out four. Alfonso Soriano got things going in the first with an RBI single, Jeff Baker had an RBI double and Geovany Soto smacked a two-run homer. Starlin Castro added a three-run shot in the seventh inning, his seventh of the season, to put the game out of reach.
What it means: After Dempster’s strong outing, trade talks will continue to swirl around the veteran right-hander. He is scheduled to start the Cubs' first game after the All-Star break on Friday.
Outside the box: To make room for Dempster on the Cubs roster, Chris Volstad was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Volstad is 0-7 this season and the Cubs have lost each game he’s started.
Up next: Castro and Bryan LaHair will represent the Cubs at the All-Star Game in Kansas City on Tuesday.
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.