Dempster, who is 9-0 at Wrigley, including a win last Sunday over the White Sox, has yet to win in seven road games, although he had a better ERA away from home. Now 9-3 overall, he gave up eight runs, seven hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the year, and denied the loss had anything to do with the road gray uniforms.
"I just haven't won on the road," Dempster said. "I've pitched well on the road. Today I didn't pitch very well. I was ahead of a lot of guys, and I didn't put the pitch where I needed to put it and they took advantage of it.
"I know it's really hard to do sometimes, to sit in your locker and not give them any credit," he said, "but they deserve the credit because they took advantage of the mistakes I made."
The White Sox had a 1-0 lead in the first after Carlos Quentin hit a one-out RBI single, then sent 10 batters to the plate in the third. With one out, Orlando Cabrera doubled and scored on A.J. Pierzynski's single. Left fielder Eric Patterson overran the ball, and Pierzynski reached third on the error. Patterson most likely won't be in left again.
Quentin hit an RBI double and scored on Jermaine Dye's single to make it 4-0. The Cubs thought they had thrown out Dye when he stole third, but third-base umpire Chad Fairchild disagreed. Dempster walked Jim Thome and Joe Crede to load the bases for Swisher, who connected on his third career grand slam and the ninth in this crosstown series.
"You're one pitch away from getting out of it," Dempster said. "I was 1-2 on Nick, and I made a mistake. If I get that pitch where I need it, maybe there's different results. Unfortunately, you don't have do-overs and you can't have mulligans in baseball."
Now that he's a starter and not a closer, Dempster will have to wait to redeem himself.
"It's going to be a long four days," he said. "I'll be itching -- I'll ask Lou [Piniella] to get me in there somehow. Let me get some action, run the bases, bunt or something."
The Cubs know all about what big innings can do for a team.
"You see a team get more confidence with each batter," Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. "We've had our share of those this year. It isn't much fun when you're on the other side."
Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot hit back-to-back homers to open the fifth, and birthday boy Jim Edmonds added a solo shot in the seventh, but the Cubs missed early chances. Lee had a tough day, grounding into double plays in the first and third innings. The second one really stung because the Cubs had the bases loaded and were only down 1-0.
"I was just trying to get a ball in the air, and I got a ground ball," Lee said. "I thought that double play really gave them some momentum. They beat us, and swung the bats well. We have to do a better job."
If Lee had delivered, the outcome might have been different. The Cubs fans in the sellout crowd of 39,132 can only wonder "What if ..."
"If," Piniella said. "There are a lot of 'ifs' in baseball, aren't there? We'll forget about this one and come out and play tomorrow."
They need to find some healthy bodies. When Edmonds hit into a fielder's choice in the second inning, he came up limping after touching the bag. He has plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and aggravated it coming out of the box.
"I told him I'd make it, and it's not a big deal," Edmonds said. "As long as we have nine bodies on the field, we'll be OK. We have to keep playing hard and go through the rough times and keep going out there."