NEW YORK - Ryan Dempster extended his scoreless innings streak to 27 in his first start in three weeks, Starlin Castro hit a three-run homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets 7-0 on Sunday.
Dempster (4-3 ) was activated from the disabled list then pitched five innings of four-hit ball in his first outing since June 15, when he experienced tightness in a back muscle. His lengthy string of zeros is the Cubs' best for a starter since Ken Holtzman went 27 innings in 1971.
The Cubs made it as comfortable as possible for Dempster, scoring four runs before he even threw a pitch. Alfonso Soriano had an RBI single, Jeff Baker a run-scoring double and Geovany Soto drove in two runs with a single against Jonathon Niese.
Niese (7-4 ) had only given up four or more runs in a game five times - 16 starts - this season entering on Sunday.
The Cubs finished the first half in the midst of a modest surge, winning nine of 13 to improve to a disappointing 33-52 in Theo Epstein's first year in charge.
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