Dempster has won four straight outings and has dropped his ERA to 1.99. He's pitched with the constant chatter of trade talk around him. The right-hander will be matched against southpaw Joe Saunders on Saturday, and the Cubs are just 8-18 against left-handers this season.
The Cubs haven't had a 27-inning scoreless streak since Ken Holtzman managed that exact figure in 1971, and Dempster will be looking to continue the trend. Just four starts ago, the right-hander was 0-3 with a 2.90 ERA, but now he's rolling and one of the league's most interesting trade chips.
Both teams have players that will come up in trade talks between now and the non-waiver Trade Deadline at the end of the month, but Chicago manager Dale Sveum doesn't think it will impact the caliber of play on the field. For Sveum, that kind of talk ends once the game begins.
"I don't think it ever impacts wins or losses," he said of trade rumors. "I've been on teams where there's a little bit [of rumors] or a lot, and then all of sudden it gets down to the Trade Deadline and, wow, nothing happens. You're going to have the medium, the garage sale, [or] nobody gets traded. It's part of the game and it's that time of the year. The rumors fly and things happen."
Arizona won three straight games before the All-Star break and will play games on 20 straight days after the intermission, allowing the D-backs a chance to get back into the race. Arizona went into the second half trailing the Dodgers by four games and second-place San Francisco by three and a half games.
Saunders will be making his first start in nearly a month due to a strained left shoulder, and the D-backs are expected to activate him from the disabled list for Saturday's rotation turn. Saunders has allowed eight homers in his last eight starts, but has yet to face the Cubs this year.
D-backs: Hill on a roll
• Arizona slugger Aaron Hill went into the break in third place among big-league second basemen in average (.297), on-base percentage (.352) and home runs (11). Hill, who has hit for the cycle twice this season, is second among his positional peers in slugging (.503) and extra-base hits (37).
Hill was just the second player -- and the first since Babe Herman in 1931 -- to cycle twice in the same season, and his hot streak goes all the way back to last season. Hill, acquired from Toronto last August, is batting .304 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs in 115 games with the D-backs.
Cubs: Soriano surging
• Alfonso Soriano has had a resurgence of his own. Chicago's veteran outfielder didn't homer in his first 30 games this season, but he's gone deep 17 times in his last 50 games, including two in Friday's victory.
• Despite their overall record against lefties, the Cubs are 4-1 in their last five and 5-2 in their last seven games against southpaws.
• Arizona is just 7-9 in its last 16 road games.
• Arizona starter Daniel Hudson successfully underwent ligament replacement surgery over the All-Star break.
• The Cubs are 26-15 when they score at least four runs and 8-37 when they score three or fewer runs.