How it happened: Ryan Dempster threw 33 first-inning pitches, allowing three runs. Dempster was coming off a game in which he threw 128 pitches, his most since 2001. After the first, Dempster was stellar, giving up just four hits and no runs through his last six innings and finishing at 110 pitches. The Cubs offense has only given Dempster two runs in his last two outings. Bryan LaHair's sacrifice fly off Houston starter Brett Meyers scored Starlin Castro in the first. Aramis Ramirez's pinch-hit sac fly in the eighth inning scored Darwin Barney. Umpires used instant replays to negate what appeared to be a two-out, two-run home run by Carlos Pena in the eighth, reversing the call to a double.
What it means: Dempster is stuck on 10 wins for the seventh straight start. He’s 0-5 with two no-decisions in that span. Dempster needs 9 1/3 innings pitched to get to 200 innings for the fourth straight season.
Outside the box: Castro’s first-inning double extended his on-base streak to 31 games. That’s the most by a Cubs shortstop since 1930, when Woody English had 32.