GLENDALE, Ariz. – Ryan Dempster appears ready to take the mound on Opening Day.
The righty scattered two hits and struck out six, including the last four he faced. He allowed one walk and hit a batter, but was otherwise dominant, throwing 39 of 64 pitches for strikes.
"(Catcher Geovany Soto) and I today were on a real good page. I was able to keep the ball down," Dempster said. "I was pounding the strike zone and felt real good command of my fastball."
White Sox Opening Day starter Mark Buehrle, on the other hand, labored through a 63-pitch outing. He gave up six hits and three runs in three innings, walking two batters and striking out one. He has given up 16 hits and eight runs in his last two starts.
After joking about his innings being on the decline when they should be rising, Buehrle admitted he isn't happy with his results this spring.
"I'm more frustrated than I should be for a spring training start," Buehrle said. "Being competitive, I don't like getting hit around."
Despite giving up a run each inning, things could have been much worse for Buehrle. The two-time defending Gold Glove winner used his dexterity to get out of trouble several times, including snagging a sharp ground ball to start an inning-ending double-play in the third.
The White Sox bullpen rebounded nicely, giving up just one run on four hits and striking out six over six innings.
Carlos Pena led off the second inning with his first Cactus League home run, sending a 2-2 pitch from Buehrle over the center field wall. Pena singled in another run in the third.
Jeff Baker doubled twice and scored a run for the Cubs. Soto added two hits and an RBI. Blake DeWitt and Brett Jackson hit back-to-back doubles in the ninth, producing what would end up being the deciding run.
Jeff Samardzija entered in the ninth inning with a four-run cushion but allowed an RBI-double to Stefan Gartrell and a two-run homer to Lastings Milledge to cut the lead to one before recording the final two outs.
While the rivalry may be more tense during the regular season, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wishes the best for his counterpart.
"I think this man is a great baseball man," Guillen said of Cubs manager Mike Quade. "Hopefully, he puts that team in a position to win and puts them in a good spot. This guy has been in baseball so long. I know he's happy to have the job."
Notes: White Sox RHP Jake Peavy felt good after a "very light" 23-pitch bullpen session Friday morning. He makes his next Cactus League start on Monday. ... Former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas stopped by the clubhouse for a visit Friday. ... Sean Marshall, Thomas Diamond and John Maine all worked scoreless innings for the Cubs. ... Illinois governor Pat Quinn attended the game.