Dempster Puts Dodgers in the Dumpster

A pair of Cubs who have been struggling led Chicago to a 3-0 victory over a Dodgers club opening a nine-game road trip. Clayton Kershaw matched him pitch-for-pitch but left after six innings having given up only four hits and an an unearned run after an error by shortstop Rafael Furcal, making his first start after being activated from the disabled list.

Reliever Ramon Troncoso followed Jeff Weaver's scoreless seventh by allowing only one hit but it was a two-run home run in the eighth by Derrek Lee, who knocked in all three Cub runs, that followed Furcal's second error of he game.

Coming into the game, Dempster hadn't won since April 23, and Lee's three hits boosted his average from .218 to .231.

Kershaw (4-3) left after six having thrown 104 pitches, 70 of them for strikes. He allowed four hits, two walks and struck out two, lowering his team-leading ERA to 2.70. He has an 0.64 earned run average over his last four starts.

It was the young left-handeer's 10th start of the season and in his starts Los Angeles has scored 34 runs for a 3.4 runs per game average. Excluding a 9-5 win over Arizona, the Dodgers have supplied him with 25 runs, a skimpy 2.78 runs per game.

Russell Martin singled in the first and stole second. Manny Ramirez walked with two out but James Loney bounced out to end the inning.

Ramirez singled in the fourth and with two out, Casey Blake collected the Dodgers' final hit.

Kershaw held the Cubs hitless until one out in the fourth when Lee doubled and Marion Byrd singled. The game was scoreless until the sixth when Furcal booted Ryan Theriot's ground ball to open the inning. He stole second and scored on Lee's single to left for the only run the Cubs needed.

Weaver gave up the third Chicago hit in the seventh and Lee's homer off Troncoso in the eighth was the fourth, and final safety of the game.

Nine Dodgers went down on strikes and they had only two runners reach second base while leaving four. Their last 16 batters were retired and they suffered their sixth shutout of the season.

The game was completed in a snappy 2:19.

San Diego stopped St. Louis by a 1-0 margin and increased their lead over Los Angeles to two full games. San Francisco and Colorado both won.

Sherrill on Disabled List
The Dodgers placed left-handed reliever George Sherrill on the 15-day DL because of tightness in his back. That made room on the roster for Furcal.

The left-hander reported that he suffered the injury to his back while getting into bed Saturday night. He had been healthy the entire season, despite a sickly 7.38 earned run average.

The injury came at a fortuitous time for the Dodgers who had considered making room for Furcal by sending Nick Green to Albuquerque, a move that would have necessitated putting him on waivers and perhaps losing him.

Sherrill, who was nearly unhittable after last summer, has been much less so in 2010. He has walked 15 in 14.2 innings.

Ethier Taking Batting Practice
Andre Ethier, who is inixplicably trailing former Dodgers Jason Werth and Shane Victorino in All-Star balloting, has been taking batting practice with the team and might return from the disabled list as soon as Sunday.

Torre suggested Ethier could have brief minor league rehabilitation assignment before being activated. "He hasn't been away that long," Torre said. "A lot of it is going to come down to what he is comfortable doing. He may have to be convinced to go down and play a couple of games, but it certainly isn't a bad idea."

Hager Injured Again
Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, making rehab appearances at Inland Empire, suffered a mild foot injury making a throw to first base in his most recent appearance but allowed two runs on four hits over six innings and is scheduled to make one more start.

The Dodgers may start rookie Carlos Monasterios or Ramon Ortiz the next time a fifth starter is needed. Another possibility is left-hander Scott Elbert who has had three strong starts for Albuquerque after struggling much of the season. He has allowed four earned runs in 16.1 innings recently.

Torre said he was leaning toward using that fifth starter on Friday night at Colorado instead of Saturday to give Hiroki Kuroda an extra day of rest.

Dodgers Blue Notes --The Dodgers and Cubs are nearly dead tied as the series record stands at 1,017-1,016 in favor of Los Angeles. ...Los Angeles has won 12 of its last 15 games and since losing 8-0 to the Rockies on May 8. The pitching staff has limited opponents to a 2.69 ERA in that span. ...First baseman James Loney has driven in exactly 90 runs in each of the last two seasons and is on pace for 103 RBI this season. Since April 30 he has knocked in 21 runs, tied for first in the N.L.  

RHP Chad Billingsley (5-2, 3.66) will start tonight against Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 3.09) in Chicago. And in the final game of the series, RHP John Ely (3-1, 3.41) will face former Dodger Ted Lilly (1-4, 4.30)