Dempster, Cubs blank Sox at Wrigley, 3-0

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Dempster, Cubs blank Sox at Wrigley, 3-0

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs may have the worst record in either league, but that didn't stop them from shutting down the Red Sox in the first game of a three-game set between Theo Epstein's former and current teams.

The Red Sox mustered just five hits -- two never left the infield -- and were blanked for the third time this season, 3-0 by the lowly Cubs.

Ryan Dempster, a prime candidate to dealt off by Epstein before next month's trade deadline, improved his stock when he pitched shutout six innings and the struggling Cubs bullpen took it from there.

The Sox had baserunners at third base in the first and seventh innings but couldn't come up with a timely hit. With runners at first-and-third in the seventh, Dustin Pedroia shot a hard liner to right, but it was hauled in by David DeJesus, as Pedroia slammed his helmet to the ground in frustration.

Boston put the leadoff man on in three of the first five innings, but couldn't push a run across. In the ninth, they loaded the bases against Carlos Marmol, but Pedroia, representing the go-ahead run at the plate, hit into a game-ending fielder's choice.

Daisuke Matsuzaka encountered command issues in the first inning, walking the bases loaded before yielding a two-run single to Steve Clevenger.

The Cubs tacked on another run in the second when Adrian Gonzalez made an ill-advised diving attempt at a tailing liner off the bat of Dempster, playing it into a triple for the pitcher. A two-out single by DeJesus scored him from third.

STAR OF THE GAME: Ryan Dempster
Dempster is almost certain to be traded by the July 31 deadline and for scouts watching, they had to be impressed. He tossed six shutout innings, and helped himself with a triple and single in two at-bats.

HONORABLE MENTION: Steve Clevenger
Clevenger delivered the only runs Dempster and the rest of the Cubs pitchers would need when he lashed a two-run double into the left field corner in the first inning.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Matsuzaka didn't pitch badly -- three runs in six innings -- but as was the case in his first return from the disabled list, he didn't pitch well enough to win, putting the Sox in a 2-0 hole in the first, in part because of three walks.

TURNING POINT: The Sox had a hint of a rally in the seventh when, with two outs, pinch-hitter Nick Punto worked a walk and Scott Podsednik followed with his second infield hit of the day. But when Dustin Pedroia lined out hard to right, the Sox' last best chance to get something going offensively had come and gone.

BY THE NUMBERS: Kevin Youkilis was 0-for-4, and since the start of the last homestand, is just 3-for-30.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We're not trying to be (lousy). Everyone's trying, man. We're just not playing good." - Dustin Pedroia

Report: Red Sox acquire bullpen help in Tyler Thornburg from Brewers; Travis Shaw included in trade

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Report: Red Sox acquire bullpen help in Tyler Thornburg from Brewers; Travis Shaw included in trade

According to multiple reports, the Red Sox have traded 1B/3B Travis Shaw and two minor-leaguers to the Milwaukee Brewers for righthander Tyler Thornburg. The prospects heading to Milwaukee are reliever Josh Pennington and infielder Mauricio Dubon.

The hard-throwing Thornburg had a tremendous season for the Brewers last year, sporting a 2.15 ERA in 67 appearances. Thornburg struck out 90 hitters in only 67 innnings, while walking 25. 

More to come...

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.