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CINCINNATI (AP) – Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade talked about possibly juggling the pitching rotation to help Ryan Dempster reach 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season.
Dempster then went out Tuesday night against Cincinnati and took a big step toward that goal. He threw a season-high 128 pitches over seven gritty innings, but was outdueled by Mike Leake in a 2-1 loss to the Reds.
“That was fun,” Dempster (10-12) said about the matchup after allowing six hits and six walks with eight strikeouts. “It just (stinks) to end up on the losing end.”
Brandon Phillips homered for the third time in two games and Edgar Renteria had three hits and Cincinnati’s other RBI. The Reds got at least one runner on base in every inning except one against Dempster, who has tossed 183 2-3 innings and might have three more starts this season.
Quade wasn’t concerned about Dempster’s walks, three of which were issued to reigning NL MVP Joey Votto.
“He’s smart enough to pitch around guys,” Quade said. “You know he’s not going to let Votto beat him. He got through it. More times than not, he’s just being careful with guys.”
Quade even let the right-hander bat with one out, nobody on, and the Cubs losing by a run in the seventh. He also left Dempster on the mound with two outs and runners on first and third in the bottom half of the inning. Dempster responded by striking out lefty Jay Bruce for the third time.
“It was nice that he left me in,” Dempster said. “We talked about it (before he batted), and he said, ‘Just go up there and get your swings and go get outs.’ I’m happy that I’m going to get to pitch one (extra) time.”
Leake (12-9) allowed six hits and two walks over eight innings in what is expected to be his final start of the season. The Reds plan to shut him down in an effort to prevent arm problems.
Leake pitched a career-high nine innings in his previous start, giving up three hits against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He took a one-hit shutout into the ninth in that game before giving up Starlin Castro’s two-out infield single and pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair’s tying home run.
“Leake’s been tough on us,” Quade said. “The last thing I remember before tonight is Bryan swinging against him (in Chicago) to tie that game up. He can pitch, no question about it.”
Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.
The Cubs saw their three-game winning streak end as the Reds snapped a three-game losing streak.
After combining for 27 hits, including seven home runs, and 20 runs in Monday’s 12-8 Chicago win, the Reds and Cubs produced a total of 12 hits and three runs with one homer on Tuesday.
Phillips connected in the bottom of the first for his third home run in four at-bats and 15th of the season.
The Reds made it 2-0 in the fifth. Devin Mesoraco drew a leadoff walk, Leake grounded into a forceout, Phillips walked and Renteria hit an RBI single.
Carlos Pena led off the Cubs’ sixth with a double. He moved to third on LaHair’s soft single to left-center field and scored on Alfonso Soriano’s double-play grounder.
NOTES: Castro walked to lead off the game for the second consecutive night. He has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games. … LaHair extended his career-opening hitting streak to eight games. … Reds RHP Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati’s scheduled starter on Wednesday, trails Los Angeles LHP Clayton Kershaw in the NL ERA race by .0044 percentage points. Cueto has gone four starts without a decision. … Chicago’s scheduled starter, RHP Casey Coleman, hasn’t won in nine appearances, including seven starts, since May 19 at Florida. He is 0-4 in the span.
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