Cardinals End Dempster’s Run, Beat Cubs 4-1

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — The next time he starts, Ryan Dempster could be wearing a different uniform. Still, he joked that when the phone rings, he’s not worried it’s the Chicago Cubs telling him he’s been traded.

“No, I’m hoping it’s Publishers Clearing House,” Dempster said after his 33-inning scoreless streak ended early in a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night. “Ed McMahon, maybe.”

The right-hander is all too aware of the rumors he’ll be traded to a contender by the deadline.

“I’m not naive, I realize everything’s going on,” Dempster said. “I’m well aware that it could happen any minute. But I’m not going to walk on egg shells or worry about that.”

Dempster (5-4) gave up four singles and two runs in a span of six pitches with one out in the first. Aside from Matt Holliday’s 469-foot home run, the longest ever at 7-year-old Busch Stadium, he settled down.

“I didn’t throw the ball down the middle as much the rest of the game,” Dempster said. “I made an adjustment, I just made it a little too late.”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn’t know how much of a distraction it’s been.

“Obviously, that’s a lot to be dealing with, a streak like that and obviously the rumors of any second, any day, any hour something could happen,” Sveum said. “That’s not the easiest thing to deal with.

“The other five innings were just like the normal Dempster we’ve seen all year. It was a pretty nice run.”

Dempster would have to approve a trade because he’s a 10-year veteran with at least five seasons in Chicago, and joked “Yeah, it’s nice being the hammer and not the nail.”

He said he didn’t have a list of teams, but wouldn’t say whether he wanted to stay with the Cubs.

“For right now, I’m a member of this team and I want to do the best I can do be a good teammate,” he said.

Kyle Lohse worked seven strong innings and got enough from the Cardinals’ slumbering offense. Holliday’s mammoth homer in the third ended the scoring.

“It was a hanging split-finger fastball that didn’t split and got the middle of the plate,” Dempster said. “I made a mistake and he made me pay for it a long way.”

Lohse (10-2) won his fourth straight decision over five starts to complement a lineup that topped three runs for the first time in 12 games. The defending World Series champions found an unlikely victim in Dempster after totaling 15 runs and going 8 for 51 (.157) with runners scoring position on a 1-5 trip that left them five games back in the NL Central to start the day.

Dempster hadn’t allowed a run since May 30 while winning five straight starts and entered with a major league-best 1.86 ERA before running into immediate trouble. Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina each had an RBI single and Lance Berkman drove in a run with a groundout.

Dempster allowed four runs in six innings while under heavy scrutiny from several teams looking to make a deal. The streak was the majors’ longest since the Phillies’ Cliff Lee had a 34-inning run last year, and it was the Cubs’ longest since Ken Holtzman also had a 33-inning streak in 1969.

Seven straight Cardinals were retired before Holliday’s one-out clout in the third that soared past Big Mac Land in left field and traveled 4 feet longer than Albert Pujols’ drive over the bleachers behind the visitor’s bullpen in left against the Rockies’ Esmil Rogers last Aug. 14.

According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, Holliday’s homer is tied for the fifth-longest in the majors this year.

The Cardinals worked Dempster for 32 pitches in the third, including a nine-pitch walk by David Freese to load the bases, but came up empty when Rafael Furcal broke his bat on a liner to second.

The Cubs lost for the 11th time in their last 15 games in St. Louis.

Manager Mike Matheny juggled the lineup with Skip Schumaker, who entered a .431 career hitter against Dempster, at the top and Furcal dropped to eighth for the first time this season. Schumaker took a called third strike to open the first and was 1 for 4 while Furcal had two hits.

Lohse has won 13 of his last 15 starts dating to last season, according to STATS LLC. He worked seven or more innings for the seventh time in eight starts, allowing a run on six hits with four strikeouts, all but one looking.

The Cubs opened the second with a walk by Bryan LaHair, a single by Steve Clevenger and a sacrifice fly by Darwin Barney. They had only two runners in scoring position against Lohse, and were a collective 2 for 15 with men on.

Tyler Greene is 0 for 13 as a pinch hitter after taking a called third strike from Scott Maine with runners on second and third to end the Cardinals’ eighth.

Jason Motte a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances, and first in three chances against the Cubs.

NOTES: Molina has 11 RBIs against the Cubs this year and 21 the last two seasons, both of them best by an opponent in the majors. … Berkman doubled in the third for his first hit in 11 at-bats since being activated from the 15-day disabled list from a knee injury to start the second half. … Dempster entered with an 0.95 ERA in seven road starts, surrendering five runs in 47 1-3 innings.