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Ramirez, Dempster Push Cubs Past Pirates, 3-2

Aramis Ramirez

Aramis Ramirez (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Jim McIsaac)

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CHICAGO (AP) — Aramis Ramirez ended a long home run drought, Ryan Dempster threw six solid innings and the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 in a rain-delayed game Sunday.

Ramirez’s line drive solo shot in the second broke a streak of 155 at-bats without a home run, the second longest stretch of his career. Ramirez went 170 at-bats between homers from Aug. 2, 1998, until April 21, 2000.

Dempster (4-4) recovered from a poor start to post his fifth quality start in his last six outings. After allowing two runs, a walk and Lyle Overbay’s two-run double in the first inning, Dempster settled down to shut out the Pirates on four hits over the next five innings.

Dempster allowed four hits and two runs overall, striking out five and walking three. He beat the Pirates for first time in five starts dating to May 4, 2010.

The Cubs got three scoreless innings from their bullpen, one each from Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and closer Carlos Marmol.

Marmol, who earned his 10th save, has allowed just one earned run in his last 21 innings.

Pirates starter Jeff Karstens (3-4) allowed three runs — two earned — and struck out four over five innings. Karsten, who recently took the rotation spot of the injured Ross Ohelendorff, departed after throwing just 71 pitches.

The Cubs manufactured the go-ahead run in the third. Kosuke Fukudome led off with a double, went to third on Darwin Barney’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly.

Fukudome, who had two hits, entered the game leading the majors with a .411 home average. 

Overbay walked and drove in both Pittsburgh runs with his two-run double in the first.

The game was delayed by 2 hours, 34 minutes at the start because of heavy rain. However, once the storm front cleared the Chicago area, it was a mild and pleasant afternoon.

The Cubs scored their first run in the second on the long-overdue homer run from Ramirez, who has averaged 28 each of his seven full seasons with the Cubs. Carlos Pena, who followed with a single, has reached base in 21 of his last 23 games.

Speedy Cubs rookie Tony Campana then hit a grounder to shortstop Ronny Cedeno and beat the throw, which skipped away from Overbay. Pena advanced to third on the play and Cedeno was charged with an error, snapping his 35-game errorless streak.

Pena scored on Koyie Hill’s sacrifice fly to right, his run unearned because of Cedeno’s miscue. Pena beat the throw of Pirates right fielder Garrett Jones, but he slid into catcher Ryan Doumit.

Doumit was hurt on the play, leaving the game with what the Pirates called an injured left ankle. He was replaced by backup Chris Snyder.

Some familiar Cubs nemises got the Pirates out to an early 2-0 lead.

Andrew McCutchen and Neal Walker drew back-to-back walks against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. Both scored on Overbay’s double into the right-field corner.

McCutchen has now reached base safely in his last 21 games against the Cubs. Walker, who siongled in the sixth, has hit safely in all 15 games he’s played against Chicago in his career.

NOTES: Catcher Geovany Soto returned to the Cubs’ clubhouse after being activated off the DL. He hasn’t played since May 10 because of a left groin strain. To make room for Soto, the Cubs optioned backup catcher Welington Castillo to Triple-A Iowa. Soto is expected to start in Monday’s series opener against Houston. … The Cubs placed CF Reed Johnson on the DL because of lower back spasms and recalled OF Brad Snyder from Iowa. The Cubs also had to clear space for Snyder on the team’s 40-man roster, so they moved injured starter Andrew Cashner (right rotator cuff strain) to the 60-day disabled list.