Cubs shut out Red Sox for first time in 94 years

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The last time the Cubs shut out the Red Sox, Fenway Park was six years old. This year, it’s celebrating its centennial.

Ryan Dempster blanked the Red Sox for seven innings Friday as part of a 3-0 Cubs victory. It was the first time the Cubs had shut out Boston since Game 5 of the 1918 World Series.

That was also a 3-0 game, with Hippo Vaughn beating Sad Sam Jones. A day later, the Red Sox bounced back behind Carl Mays and won their last World Series for 86 years. The Cubs, of course, haven’t won since 1908.

Enough with the history lesson, though. Today was all about Dempster, who upped his scoreless streak to 22 innings. Baseball’s unluckiest pitcher while going winless in his first eight starts, he’s now 3-3 with a 2.11 ERA this season.

Dempster helped himself today by going 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored. The triple was a ball that a quality right fielder probably would have caught. Adrian Gonzalez, though, should have simply let it drop for a single. Instead, he made an ill-advised dive and played it into a triple.

The Red Sox lost despite outhitting the Cubs 5-4, going 4-for-4 stealing bases and getting help from three Cubs errors, including one while they were in the process of loading the bases in the ninth. They never could push a run across, though. Batting with a total of five runners in scoring position, Dustin Pedroia made the final outs of the fifth, seventh and ninth innings.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was the loser for Boston. He was in classic Dice-K form in his second start back after Tommy John surgery; in the first inning, he walked three batters and gave up a two-run double to give the Cubs the early lead. He never walked another batter and he was pretty terrific from the third inning on — he retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced in his six innings — but it didn’t really matter with no runs on the way.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.