Ryan Dempster continues case for Opening Day with 4 solid innings

MESA, Ariz. -- Ryan Dempster feels right on track for Opening Day.

Dempster pitched four solid innings, Marlon Byrd had three hits and rookie D.J. LeMahieu hit a game-ending home run as the split-squad Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in 10 innings Sunday.

Dempster, entering his eighth season with the Cubs and 14th overall, was picked by manager Mike Quade shortly after spring training began to start the opener April 1 against Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field.

There was a meeting early in camp with Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins "and we laid the plan out for how many innings we need to get," Dempster said.

"It was nice to go four innings today. I'll be ready for it when it comes," he said.

Dempster gave up a run and three hits and struck out three. Aaron Miles hit a leadoff triple in the third and scored on a groundout by Trayvon Robinson.

"It is never easy. I felt I threw pretty well for the most part, pounding the strike zone. I was up in the zone in the first inning, but got the ball down after that," Dempster said.

Closer Carlos Marmol looked as if he was ready to go right now by striking out three in the fifth inning.

Of position players who might be set ready to start the season, center fielder Byrd probably is at the top of the list. He doubled twice and drove in a run with his fourth multihit effort in six games this spring. He is hitting .600 (9-for-15) with four doubles and three RBIs.

Kosuke Fukudome broke a 2-all tie for the Cubs with a seventh-inning single, but the Dodgers got the run right back on an RBI double by Marcus Thames, who was celebrating his 34th birthday.

Because the Cubs also were playing a split-squad game against Cincinnati, they called up nine players from their minor league camp, including LeMahieu and catcher Michael Brenly, son of Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly.

LeMahieu made the most of his chance. After Bobby Scales opened the 10th with a bloop single off Luis Vasquez, LeMahieu homered over the left-field fence. The teams had already agreed to end the game after the 10th because they were running out of pitchers.

Game notes
Cubs RHP Carlos Silva will start on Monday against the Angels, his first game since a dugout altercation with third baseman Aramis Ramirez on March 2 against Milwaukee. ... Cubs third-base coach Ivan DeJesus got a close look at his son, Ivan Jr., who started at second base for the Dodgers. ...Dodgers 1B James Loney was out of action again with swelling in his left knee. If the knee responds to treatment, he could run again on Tuesday and play Wednesday.