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BOS@CHC: Dempster shuts down Red Sox to extend streak

CHICAGO -- Ryan Dempster finally had a home-field advantage, although it may have been one of his last games at home.

Dempster threw seven strong innings and had two hits, including his second career triple, and Carlos Marmol returned as closer to lead the Cubs to a 3-0 Interleague victory over the Red Sox on Friday in front of 40,073 at Wrigley Field.

Dempster (3-3), the subject of trade rumors, won his first game at home in six starts and has not given up a run in his last three outings, covering 22 innings.

"I don't know how that happens, really," Dempster said. "It's inevitable that you miss a pitch and somebody hits it in the stands or whatever. A guy gets on second with none out, and all you're thinking about is trying to preserve the win. To think about something like that is pretty mind-boggling."

"Incredible win," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He's got so many different ways to get people out, and he's been pulling it off day in and day out."

However, it may also be one of Dempster's last games at Wrigley. He recently talked to Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein about the possibility of a trade. If the right-hander was aware of the scouts in the stands, he didn't flinch.

"He's one of the most professional, hard-working people you're ever going to be around," Sveum said. "When he steps out on the mound, it's all 'Game on' with him. It's not trade rumors or, 'Where am I going to go?' It's, 'How am I going to get the next pitch?'"

Dempster kept the Red Sox off balance.

"He was pretty tough," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "Guys weren't picking up his ball pretty well. When we hit the ball, it seemed to be right at one of their outfielders. You know, those balls have to drop a couple of times a game in order to put some runs on the board."

Marmol has been thinking about when he would get a chance to close again. Sveum told the right-hander a couple days ago that he had his job back in an effort to stabilize the bullpen. Marmol did make it interesting. With one out, Ryan Sweeney singled and Mike Aviles reached on an error. One out later, Marmol walked Scott Podsednik to load the bases. Sveum came out for a chat.

"It wasn't a lot of nice things -- nice words, I should say," Sveum said of his conversation.

"He didn't tell me good things," Marmol said, laughing. "I appreciate what he said to me. He said, 'Throw strikes; I don't want to take you out of the game. Let's go.'"

Marmol got Dustin Pedroia to hit into a force at third to end the game. It was the right-hander's first save since May 2 and third of the season. Rookie Rafael Dolis had taken over the duties but struggled with his command and has been pitching at Triple-A Iowa since the end of May. Since then, James Russell and Shawn Camp have shared the workload.

"We told [Marmol] he's done everything we've asked him to do and his side sessions and his work, and he's been throwing his fastball more," Sveum said. "He came back and made pitches with his fastball, and he got the ground ball. We made a concious effort a couple days ago, the way things have been going, to try to solidify the bullpen."

The problem has been fastball command, or the lack of.

"He has at least some conviction with his fastball now," Sveum said. "It's not, 'I'm going to waste it and go back to my slider.'"

This is the second regular-season meeting between the two historic teams at Wrigley Field, and the first since June 2005. In that series, Dempster was Chicago's closer and picked up a save. On Friday, he pocketed $500, winning a wager with speedster Tony Campana as to who would hit the first triple.

Rookie Steve Clevenger hit a two-run double with the bases loaded in the first against Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2), who was making his second start since Tommy John surgery about one year ago. Dempster tripled with one out in the second, his first since May 12, 2002.

"I thought it was the easiest bet I ever made," Campana said.

"I try to spread my triples out every 10 years," Dempster said.

Dempster dropped the ball in right past a diving Adrian Gonzalez, who may have had trouble with his footing. The grounds crew has spray-painted the outfield after weekend concerts destroyed some of the grass.

"I'd had almost the same play the other day, where it's in that corner and you go looking for it and it's an automatic triple," Cubs right fielder David DeJesus said. "It's tough, and I don't wish that on anybody. We'll take the triples on our side."

One out later, Starlin Castro was hit by a pitch and Dempster scored on DeJesus' single. It was enough to give the Cubs their seventh win in the last 29 games, and it improved them to 3-7 in Interleague Play. How much longer Dempster will be in the rotation remains to be seen.

"You don't want to lose your No. 1 starter," DeJesus said. "We understand it's part of the game, and we'd love to have him here. If it happens [and he's traded], we'll move on. It's the nature of the beast."

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