Reds 2, Cubs 0

By Chris Rewers on Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hero: Ryan Dempster (1-4) had his second straight solid start, allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits while striking out four and walking none.

"I'm doing a better job of executing pitches," Dempster said. "I was able to keep the ball down, for the most part, today."

Goat: Starlin Castro, back in the two hole after a game off, continued to slump, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and leaving six runners stranded on base. Castro has just two hits in his last 25 at-bats (.080 BA), dropping his season average to .300.

The 21-year-old shortstop came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh against Cincinnati reliever Sam LeCure, but rolled to third for an inning-ending fielder's choice.

"He's just not very patient," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of Castro. "He's expanding the strike zone too much. As good as he is, guys who pitch at this level will take advantage of that if you're not disciplined enough."

Key Play: The Cubs, trailing 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the third against Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto (1-0), loaded the bases. But Aramis Ramirez flew out to left to end the threat. Ramirez is 0-for-13 this season with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Is it time to make an adjustment in your approach, Aramis?

"That's what I told (Carlos) Pena today -- keep swinging and keep doing what you're doing and don't change anything," a stubborn Ramirez told reporters after the game.

Comments: The Cubs (15-18) stranded nine on base Sunday and 25 in the three-game series with the Reds (18-16). They are 4-for-24 with runners in scoring position over their last three games. ... Cueto - who was making his season debut after missing the first five weeks of the season with right shoulder inflammation - allowed five hits, walked one, and struck out four over six innings. ... Dempster surrendered his 10th home run of the season, a solo shot to Drew Stubbs, in the fifth. ... Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol each worked a scoreless inning to extend the Cubs' bullpen's shutout streak to 22 2/3 innings over 11 games. ... The Cubs are one of five major league teams that has yet to win three straight games this season.

Next: After an off day Monday, the Cubs open a three-game series against the first-place St. Louis Cardinals (20-15) at Wrigley Field on Tuesday (WGN, 7:05 p.m.). The fourth-place Cubs trail St. Louis by four games. Carlos Zambrano (4-1, 4.23 ERA), in search of his first Wrigley Field victory this season, will oppose Cardinals slumping ace Chris Carpenter (0-2, 4.19), who is winless in seven outings this season.

Zambrano won both of his starts and posted a 2.03 ERA against the Redbirds last season.

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