Dempster Nears Record

Ryan Dempster knows it's not always going to be pretty, but the Cubs closer gets the job done.

Dempster held on to a 4-1 victory over Cincinnati on Wednesday at Wrigley Field for his second save of the year and 21st save conversion in a row. He is one behind the Cubs record held by Joe Borowoski, who saved 22 straight in 2003-2004.

"I heard about it from my car dealer," Dempster said of the streak. "I'm like, thanks a lot. Why don't you tell me I have a no-hitter going?"

Wednesday's save wasn't easy. He walked a batter and sweated it out when Javier Valentin hit a ball to deep right that Angel Pagan snagged with a running, leaping catch.

REPLAY: The Cubs used two double steals in the first three innings and took advantage of a jittery Cincinnati defense in Wednesday's 4-1 victory at Wrigley Field.

The Reds committed five errors in the first three innings. Juan Pierre and Derrek Lee were both on the basepaths to execute the double steals. Pierre score two runs and Lee scored the third in that span to give the team a 3-0 lead.

NOTES --RHP Greg Maddux, who turns 40 on Friday, twirled another gem on Wednesday as he gave up one run on three hits in six innings of a 4-1 victory over Cincinnati. Maddux struck out seven batters and threw just 87 pitches. Despite getting off to rough starts in previous years, he is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA so far and is the only Cubs starting pitcher with a victory during this young season.

--RHP Jerome Williams is still slated to start Saturday against Pittsburgh even though he pitched two innings of relief Sunday and two more Tuesday. He will be working on just three days' rest. It will be the first time the Cubs will use a fifth starter this season.

--RF Jacque Jones has a mild right hamstring strain and missed Wednesday's game against Cincinnati. He also is expected to miss Thursday's contest against the Reds, and the Cubs hope he can return Friday when they visit Pittsburgh.

--3B Aramis Ramirez has a slight strain in his upper left hamstring area and missed Wednesday's game against Cincinnati. He likely will miss Thursday's game, too, and the Cubs hope he will be available Friday when they visit Pittsburgh.

--C Michael Barrett was promoted to the cleanup spot Wednesday after 3B Aramis Ramirez was unavailable due to an upper left hamstring injury. Barrett entered the game with three home runs in three games. He didn't homer Wednesday, but he drove in three runs.

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