Inside Pitch: Dempster Struggling

Closer Ryan Dempster is going through a horrific stretch.

He has lost three games in his past four appearances, giving up seven runs in four innings. He admits that Cubs fans probably don't want to see him out there with the game on the line but said he still wants a chance to "right the ship."

Manager Dusty Baker is giving him that chance.

"That's Dempster's job," Baker said. "A lot of time the life of a closer is that they can be heroes and they can fall out of favor. Some relievers can have two great years, fall out of favor and come back and have two or three more great years. 'Demp' is our closer."

REPLAY: The Cubs crawled out of last place with a 7-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs scratched out a run in the third inning when Ronny Cedeno scored on a Zach Duke wild pitch.

But starter Rich Hill (7 1-3 innings, 11 strikeouts) and shortstop Ronny Cedeno each had eighth-inning throwing errors to lead to two Pirates runs, and it appeared the Cubs were ready to lose another game. But Derrek Lee's grand slam on his 31st birthday sparked a sixth-run bottom of the eighth, and the Cubs (56-83) pulled off the victory.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • LHP Rich Hill may have moved ahead of the other rookie pitchers on the staff who are looking for starting jobs with the Cubs next year. He became the first Cubs southpaw since 1990 to strike out 10 or more hitters when he fanned 11 Pirates in 7 1/3 innings Wednesday. He gave up two runs (one earned) in a no-decision. In his previous start, Hill allowed one run in eight innings against San Francisco.

  • 1B Derrek Lee, who had homered on his birthday the past three seasons, hit an eighth-inning grand slam on his 31st birthday Wednesday to spark a six-run rally in a 7-2 victory. Due to two stints on the disabled list with a wrist injury, he likely will take Thursday off to rest the wrist.

  • SS Cesar Izturis (strained right hamstring) was eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday, but he likely won't be ready to play until at least when the Cubs return from Atlanta on Sept. 12.

  • 1B John Mabry took a line drive to the left leg during batting practice Wednesday. He already has seen limited action because of back stiffness.

  • RHP Juan Mateo struck out seven batters against Pittsburgh on Tuesday night but lasted just four innings. It was the sixth time in nine games a Cubs starting pitcher wasn't able to go at least five innings.

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