Red Sox Live Blog: Cubs Lean on Quality Pitching, Quiet the Sox for 3-0 Win

Red Sox Live Blog: Cubs Lean on Quality Pitching, Quiet the Sox for 3-0 Win

Final, Cubs 3-0: Daniel Nava made a pinch-hit appearance, his first since Saturday, and whiffed against Carlos Marmol with two men on.

And that's been the story of the Sox' recent stretch and on Saturday as well, considering the team wasted a few chances.

Daisuke Matsuzaka tossed a quality outing and with the exception of the first inning, he pitched pretty well. Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, raised his trade value with another strong performance.

End 8th, Cubs 3-0: Mark Melancon has come back to get some work and once again tossed a scoreless inning.

It probably helped that it was against National League competition, considering he flourished as the Astros closer last season.

The only miscue was a walk to David DeJesus, but that isn't worth panicking about.

Mid 8th, Cubs 3-0: Cubs reliever James Russell just took care of the Sox middle of the order with ease.

He got Adrian Gonzalez to ground out, David Ortiz to fly out and Kevin Youkilis to fly out.

All season long, the Cubs have relied on a closer-by-committee formula and it all depends on the matchups. Stay tuned.

End 7th, Cubs 3-0: Look at Scott Atchison showing off the speed when he beat Tony Campana — a leadoff hitter — to the first base bag.

On top of that, Atchison recorded two more strikeouts. It just continues to add to a very impressive season by the veteran reliever.

Also, David Ortiz did a nice job scooping Campana's grounder and flipping it to Atchison in time.

Mid 7th, Cubs 3-0: The missed opportunities for the Red Sox offense just continues to pile up.

With Nick Punto on third and Scott Podsednik at second, Dustin Pedroia lined out to right field. It's been the same old issue for the offense.

By the way, Podsednik is just owning the leadoff spot. You have to wonder what effect that will have on Jacoby Ellsbury when he returns.

End 6th, Cubs 3-0: And that's another 1-2-3 inning for Daisuke Matsuzaka.

He's just a mixed bag all over again as I wrote after his first start. Now, he's in the "lights out" phase of his start after struggling early.

That's still enough for a quality start for Matsuzaka.

Mid 6th, Cubs 3-0: Kevin Youkilis is just stuck in a rut, flying out in that at-bat.

He's 0-for-3 in this one and 3-for-33 in his last few games. The trade rumors are certainly a distraction, but he's really fallen off after coming back from the DL.

He's made candid comments in recent days about his situation and it'll continue

End 5th, Cubs 3-0: Even though Matsuzaka retired Bryan LaHair in that inning, the Cubs first baseman has enjoyed a nice season.

He's belted 12 homers and 26 RBIs to prove his worth and fend off prospect Anthony Rizzo for the first base spot.

LaHair also hails from Worcester, so he's a local guy.

Mid 5th, Cubs 3-0: Mike Aviles didn't show off the best baserunning acumen, when he was nailed out in the force out.

But Scott Podsednik still comes through with getting on base and owns a .370 average. This is certainly one of the best stretches of his career and the 36-year-old wasn't lying when he said he had gas left in the tank.

End 4th, Cubs 3-0: Ryan Dempster is still swinging well against Daisuke Matsuzaka, making contact for a single.

It's his second hit of the game, just on the heels of Dempster's first run of the season. So clearly he's not a heavy-hitting pitcher.

Matsuzaka leaned on his curveball and four-seamer in that one to be more effective.

Mid 4th, Cubs 3-0: Despite the crazy change on the horizon, Cubs manager Dale Sveum has done well under the circumstances.

He never got a contract offer from the Red Sox, but was really interested in the job. Back at the winter meetings, he told me that he embraced managing in the spotlight of a big city.

Once the Cubs settle things, he really could wind up being a steal as a skipper.

End 3rd, Cubs 3-0: For the first time in this game, Matsuzaka has collected a 1-2-3 inning.

He's really a mixed bag. Sometimes, he gets your blood pressure rising with those walks and sometimes, he gets the job done like expected.

Either way, the Sox will need to back him up with some offense pretty soon.

Mid 3rd, Cubs 3-0: Ryan Dempster has continued to cruise for the Cubs and the crazy part is he could be on the trading block.

Since early in the season, the Cubs have made no bones about putting everyone on the block. Dempster is a guy who has experience starting, relieving and closing.

If he gets shipped out, he could certainly bolster a contending club.

End 2nd, Cubs 3-0: For most of his stints in right field, Adrian Gonzalez has made good decisions.

But he made an awful one there, making an ill-advised dive on a ball — that he wasn't even close to — to allow Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster to collect a triple.

Matsuzaka could've helped his cause, but instead plunked Starlin Castro. That allowed David DeJesus to come through and rifle an RBI single.

Mid 2nd, Cubs 2-0: Seeing Daisuke Matsuzaka at the plate is an awkward sight to see.

Heading into this one, he was 2-for-12 at the plate and he didn't improve his average in the second inning as the pitcher flied out to center field.

But that's a result of Ryan Dempster pounding the strike zone with a bevy of fastballs.

End 1st, Cubs 2-0: After a year away, it appears the Daisuke Matsuzaka of old has resurfaced once again.

The pitcher walked three batters in the first inning, digging himself in a tough hole. And the Cubs made him, when Steve Clevenger hit a two-run single.

Walks were always his  Achilles Heel before Tommy John surgery and now it's worth monitoring if he can recover.

Mid 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox got men on base, but couldn't capitalize with a runner in scoring position.

Scott Podsednik has continued to ignite the lineup, dropping a bunt for an infield single. But Adrian Gonzalez struck out swinging and Kevin Youkilis has been sputtering at the plate.

It's a wasted opportunity, which plagued the Sox before Wednesday's offensive explosion.

1 p.m.: Here are the lineups.

Red Sox
Scott Podsednik, LF 
Dustin Pedroia, 2B 
Adrian Gonzalez, RF 
David Ortiz, 1B  
Kevin Youkilis, 3B   
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Sweeney, CF  
Mike Aviles, SS
Daisuke Matsuzaka, P

Cubs   
Tony Campana, CF
Starlin Castro, SS 
David DeJesus, RF  
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Bryan LaHair, 1B
Steve Clevenger, C 
Darwin Barney, 2B
Luis Valbuena, 3B 
Ryan Dempster, P 

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox (31-32) are making a rare trip to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs (21-41). In the process, the team will be reunited with former general manager Theo Epstein, who left the Sox over the offseason to become the Cubs' president of baseball operations. For months — well, exactly 122 days — both clubs negotiated about the issue of compensation for Epstein's departure to Chicago.

The Cubs ended up sending right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter, who wound up needing surgery in spring training and hasn't pitched at all this season. Later in the season, Epstein and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington would conduct business once again, when the Cubs sent Marlon Byrd to Boston for reliever Michael Bowden. The trade didn't work out for either party as both players were designated for assignment.

In this one, Daisuke Matsuzaka will look to improve on his first start from Tommy John surgery, when he allowed four runs in five frames against the Nationals. He did strike out eight batters.

For more analysis, follow NESN.com's live blog. Tune into NESN's pregame show at 1:30 p.m. First pitch is scheduled for 2:20 p.m.