CHICAGO (AP) - Ryan Dempster is once again one of the favorites at Wrigley Field.
Dempster pitched seven effective innings, Starlin Castro had three hits and two RBIs and the Chicago Cubs pounded the stumbling New York Mets 11-1 on Tuesday night.
Alfonso Soriano, Darwin Barney and Lou Montanez each had two hits for Chicago, which kicked off a nine-game homestand with its 11th victory in its past 12 games against NL East teams.
Montanez started in right field hours after he was promoted from Triple-A Iowa when the Cubs put right-hander Matt Garza on the 15-day disabled list with elbow stiffness.
``It's a relief. You want to do something positive right from the get-go so you calm down a little bit,' Montanez said. ``Surprisingly I was pretty calm, which also surprised me. I thought I was gonna be a little more antsy, but I was a little reserved.'
Dempster (3-4) allowed one run and seven hits, improving to 10-5 in 26 career appearances against the Mets. He struck out five and walked one.
He has won his past two home starts after dropping six consecutive decisions over seven starts dating to last season.
``It was just nice for us,' he said. ``We scored some runs, we took advantage of a big error there, scored a bunch, like four runs after that. A good victory for us.'
The Mets dropped their first game since a pair of magazine articles about owner Fred Wilpon raised questions about the state of the franchise. Wilpon first made a couple of chilly comments about three of the team's biggest stars in an interview with The New Yorker, then told Sports Illustrated the club is ``bleeding cash' and could lose up to $70 million this year.
``We're going to move on. Just chalk it up as a game we didn't play very good,' manager Terry Collins said. ``We didn't catch the ball as well as we can. We didn't pitch as well as we can.'
Backup catcher Ronny Paulino made two errors, leading to five unearned runs. Pat Misch issued consecutive walks to force in a run and give the Cubs an 8-1 lead. Fernando Martinez booted Reed Johnson's single in the seventh for New York's third error, setting a season high.
Quade had starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano hit for Dempster in the seventh and he delivered a two-run single into center field.
``I like to let Z hit when he wants,' Quade said. ``He was down there stretching forever, doing whatever he does. I didn't want there to be a delay. We've got a comfortable lead, so I didn't think twice about it.'
New York (22-25) has dropped three straight after winning three in a row. Left fielder Jason Bay left with a stiff right calf in the seventh inning, but he said he was fine.
Dempster got all the support he needed in the second inning. Montanez's one-out RBI double off Jonathon Niese (3-5) put runners on second and third for Koyie Hill, who hit a bouncer to first. Daniel Murphy threw home but Paulino dropped it, allowing Soriano to score.
Barney singled in a pair of runs and Castro added an RBI single that extended the lead to 5-0.
``I'm just trying to do my part,' Barney said. ``I'm trying to stay productive and keep it simple.'
Paulino also made a throwing error while trying to pick Dempster off first in the sixth, allowing Hill to score from second.
Niese gave up six runs, two earned, and seven hits in five innings. He had won his previous two starts.
Jose Reyes had two hits and drove in a run one day after he was one of three players panned by Wilpon in an article posted on The New Yorker website. Wilpon said the oft-injured Reyes has ``had everything wrong with him.' He also said outfielder Carlos Beltran was ``65 to 70 percent of what he was' and third baseman David Wright was ``A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.'
NOTES: Garza was diagnosed with an elbow bone contusion. The DL stint is retroactive to May 18, and he could return when Chicago travels to St. Louis for a weekend series on June 3-5. ... Cubs C Geovany Soto (left groin strain) is scheduled to play in an extended spring training game in Arizona on Wednesday, then make two rehab appearances with Double-A Tennessee. He could be back in Chicago this weekend. ... Cubs OF Marlon Byrd, who was hit in the face by a fastball Saturday against Boston, saw a specialist at Northwestern and general manager Jim Hendry said the bruising in his left eye had subsided a bit. ... The gametime temperature was 45 degrees.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://twitter.com/jcohenap
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