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Mets Look To Salvage Series Vs. Cubs

(Sports Network) - The Chicago Cubs try to continue their resurgence under interim manager Mike Quade this afternoon when they go for a sweep in their three-game series with the New York Mets at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs improved to 8-3 under Quade on Saturday, as rookie Starlin Castro notched his sixth consecutive multi-hit game and Carlos Zambrano allowed two runs in seven strong innings, helping Chicago to a 5-3 victory.

"They deserve a lot of credit," Quade said of the Cubs' players. "They seem to have committed to getting after it this last month. I don't think they'll quit -- I know they won't quit. Whether it will result in a fine record, I don't know. But the kind of effort that people want to see and hopefully improvement, that I expect."

Zambrano (7-6) struck out eight and walked two while allowing four hits for the Cubs, who made Quade the first Chicago manager with eight wins in his first 11 games since Jim Essian in 1991.

"We know he's emotionally driven, but that can go too far and get him in trouble," Quade said of Big Z. "He has to pitch with passion and emotion. But in his last several starts, he's calmly gone about his business and made pitches.

In six starts since coming off the restricted list due to anger management issues, Zambrano is 4-0 with a 1.98 earned run average.

Castro, whose 76 hits since July 10 lead the majors, is 13-for-26 with three doubles, two RBI and eight runs during his impressive streak, which is the longest for a Cubs' rookie since Don Johnson did it from May 21-28, 1944.

Jenrry Mejia (0-3) made his first career start for the Mets and yielded four runs, eight hits and two walks while fanning two in five frames. The 20-year- old became the youngest starter in team history since Dwight Gooden debuted as a 19-year-old in 1984.

"I thought he did OK, but there are some things he needs to take command of to become what you'd consider to be a solid, solid player," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.

Ike Davis hit his 16th homer for New York, which fell to a dreadful 1-15-4 in NL road series this season.

Hoping to deliver the Cubs their fourth straight win will be righty Ryan Dempster, who is coming off a dreadful outing his last time out. Dempster absorbed the loss on Tuesday against Pittsburgh, as he lasted just three innings and was hammered for seven runs and seven hits to fall to 12-9 on the year, while raising his earned run average to 3.71.

Dempster, who is one win shy of 100 for his career and 50 with the Cubs, is 9-4 lifetime against the Mets with a 5.57 ERA in 24 games, 13 of which have been starts.

New York, meanwhile, will counter with Jonathon Niese, who is 8-7 with a 3.70. Niese lost his second straight start on Tuesday in Atlanta, as he allowed eight runs - just three earned - and 10 hits in 4 3/4 innings.

Niese did not get a decision the last time he faced the Cubs, despite giving up just an unearned run in 5 1/3 innings, and is 0-1 in two starts against them with a 6.23 ERA.

With a win today the Cubs would claim their first series sweep over the Mets since turning the trick from April 23-25, 2004 at Wrigley.