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03/10/12 5:44 PM ET
Cubs tack on runs late to defeat Brewers
Dempster works three scoreless; Castro homers
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Budding star Starlin Castro homered Saturday for a rare run off a Brewers starting pitcher, and the Cubs won the first 2012 matchup of these National League Central rivals, 6-1, in front of 9,180 fans at Maryvale Baseball Park. Castro connected on a 2-0 pitch from Chris Narveson in the fourth inning, snapping Narveson's five-inning scoreless streak and marking only the second earned run off a member of Milwaukee's projected starting rotation in 16 Cactus League innings. Narveson allowed that one run on two hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out three. The Brewers got their run from new shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who homered off Marcus Mateo in the seventh to cut the deficit to 2-1. The Brewers had the tying run at third base in that inning after outfield prospect Logan Schafer tripled, but Mateo struck out Mike Rivera to preserve the Cubs' lead.
Schafer finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Cubs starter Ryan Dempster was effective, working around three hits and two walks in three scoreless innings. He stranded a runner at third base in the first inning by inducing a double-play grounder from former Chicago teammate Aramis Ramirez, the third baseman who signed a three-year contract with Milwaukee during the offseason. Dempster greeted his old friend with a first pitch that sailed over Ramirez's head. The Cubs added insurance in the fifth inning with second baseman Darwin Barney's RBI triple, then pulled away in the late innings. Both teams got quality work from their Major League relievers. Cubs lefty James Russell, a key piece since Sean Marshall was traded to the Reds, struck out Ramirez in a 1-2-3 fourth inning. Brewers closer John Axford struck out two batters in a perfect sixth. Up next for Cubs: Matt Garza will make his second spring start on Sunday when the Cubs travel to Glendale to face the Dodgers. In the right-hander's first outing on Tuesday against the Rockies, he gave up two runs on three hits over two innings. The game will be broadcast on MLB.TV and an exclusive webcast on cubs.com at 2:05 p.m. CT.