The end of the season might be the only thing that can stop Ryan Dempster.
In his second-to-final start of 2009, Dempster tossed his first shutout since July 3, 2001, against the Expos, to lead the Cubs to a 6-0 victory over the Pirates in the opener of a seven-game home stand on Tuesday. In the process, he lowered his ERA over his past four outings to 0.84 and helped Chicago beat Pittsburgh for the seventh straight time.
Dempster (11-8) has not allowed an earned run in 26 straight innings at Wrigley Field and will get one more start there, against Arizona on the season's final day. He will need to throw five innings in that contest to reach his goal of 200 for the year.
The Cubs struck in the opening frame against Kevin Hart (4-9) in his first appearance at Wrigley Field since Chicago dealt him to Pittsburgh on July 30. Micah Hoffpauir knocked in the first run with a fielder's choice grounder and Jeff Baker added a two-run double.
Chicago broke open the game with a three-run fourth, aided by an infield single, a walk and an error. Derrek Lee had the big hit, bouncing a two-run single just past shortstop Luis Cruz.
The Pirates committed three errors that led to three unearned runs and helped knock out Hart after four innings.