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Dempster continues mastery of Brewers

Mike Quade has recently been bombarded with questions about his job status, but for one day, the Chicago Cubs manager got a respite from all the rumors.

“I’m a hell of a manager when we throw a shut out at ‘em,” Quade said.

It seems as though Quade and the Cubs discovered the best way to slow down the white-hot Milwaukee Brewers: put Ryan Dempster on the mound.

Dempster has seemingly always been able to stymie the Brewers’ bats and Monday night’s 1-0 win was no exception. Dempster threw seven shutout innings and struck out seven as lowered his career ERA against the Brewers to 2.50.

“They got a really good lineup, they’ve got a lot of guys that can hurt you,” Dempster said. “I just keep trying to make pitches and seemed to do that. I’m glad we got the win today.”

Dempster has been especially brilliant against the Brewers recently, going 6-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his last eight starts against them. What was especially impressive about Dempster’s latest outing was that the Brewers and Cubs are going in different directions. Heading into the game, Milwaukee had charged into first place behind a stretch that had seen them win 24 of their last 32 games loss. On the other hand, the Cubs were floundering, falling to nearly the bottom of the league after suffering through a 2-11 stretch.

On Monday, Quade was just thrilled that Dempster could give a little rest to an overworked bullpen -- a unit that has logged the third-most innings in the National League.

“Obviously seven scoreless to win a baseball game [is important], but [Dempster also] let us get some things in order [in the bullpen],” Quade said. “I’ll take seven more from [Randy Wells] tomorrow.”

The Brewers pitching was nearly as flawless, but the Cubs managed to eke out the only run they’d need in the eighth. With one out, Darwin Barney at third base, and the infield in, Aramis Ramirez hit a roller to the middle of the field. Barney didn’t hesitate when breaking for home and barely slid under the catcher’s tag.

“I’m going hard and you’ve got your sights on the catcher and looking for a hole,” Barney said. “There wasn’t really a big hole there, I had to [go] over his leg and under his hand and just try and slip my hand in there. Luckily I got in there.”

Barney felt that he should have scored on the prior play, when Carlos Pena doubled deep to left. However, Barney got a bad read on the ball and was lucky he got to third. Barney quickly made up for the base-running gaffe just two pitches later.

“[Barney] did a fabulous job, needed an unbelievable slide to get in there,” Quade said. “He got a great jump, great slide, huge play.”

Despite the good vibes in clubhouse after the big win and a crowd of 39,070 that gave the Cubs a loud ovation after they managed to score the only run of the game, not everything is rosy in Wrigleyville. The Cubs still sit 13 games under .500 and 11 games out of first place. But they know worrying about how bad they’ve been won’t help them get any better down the road.

“We’re in the position where we’re just gonna enjoy playing each game that day. What happened in the past is irrelevant,” Dempster said. ‘Who cares... we can’t do anything about it. [We can] sit there and drag our heads or we can just come out every day and play as hard as we can. That’s what we’re gonna try and do and go out there [and] expect to win every day.”

Winning every day is certainly out of the question and getting back in the playoff race still seems like a pretty far-fetched idea as well. But right now, even a run at respectability would be a step in the right direction.