Ryan Dempster and Greg Maddux both received standing ovations Thursday when they exited their starts at Wrigley Field, though Dempster noted one big difference.
"His was louder," he said. "And rightfully so. He deserves it."
Maddux may have had the home-field advantage because of his longtime status as a Cubs icon, but Dempster wasn't complaining after throwing 81/3 shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over San Diego.
On a day when Jim Edmonds made his Cubs debut, the Cubs won for the sixth time in seven games behind the stellar pitching of their former closer.
Dempster allowed six hits and struck out a career-high 12, nearly registering his first shutout in seven years. Manager Lou Piniella removed Dempster with one out in the ninth after he reached 115 pitches, and Kerry Wood struck out the final two batters to preserve the team shutout.
Maddux threw four shutout innings before giving up four runs in the fifth, failing to get out of the inning in what could be his Wrigley swan song. Maddux, 42, hasn't said he will retire after the season, but he has given no indication he will return either.
The crowd of 40,629 gave him a rousing ovation for old times' sake and just in case it was his last appearance.
"I hope it's not, because I enjoy seeing him pitch," Dempster said. "It was fun to battle against him and compete against their team. I hope he doesn't retire. I hope he keeps playing … obviously he has done a lot of special things in this game. I always enjoyed being his teammate and being on the other side playing against him."
Dempster and Maddux were engaged in a scoreless duel in the fifth when Dempster singled home the first run. Ryan Theriot's sacrifice fly made it 2-0, and Derrek Lee, in an 0-for-12 slump, added a two-run double to finish the scoring.
Dempster did the rest, improving to 5-1 and lowering his earned-run average to 2.35. He retired 15 consecutive hitters after giving up a two-out single in the first and posted his longest outing since a complete game April 8, 2003, when he beat Houston while pitching for Cincinnati.
The day's other big story was the arrival of Edmonds, the former Cardinals star Cubs fans loved to hate only a year ago. Edmonds received a standing ovation when he stepped up for the first time in the second but was booed lustily in the seventh after striking out on three pitches with the bases loaded.
Longtime talk-show host Phil Donahue was shocked to see Edmonds booed on his first day as a Cub.
"He strikes out and he walks back to the dugout and they're booing him," said Donahue, who sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch. "He has to be saying, 'I thought this was the Friendly Confines?' But you pay your ticket price, and this is what you get to do. Only in America."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun