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CHC@HOU: Dempster fans nine over 6 1/3 innings

After going undrafted and spending the past five years in the Minor Leagues slowly climbing the organizational ladder, Rockies right-hander Alan Johnson will make his Major League debut Sunday against the Cubs.

Johnson will oppose Chicago's Ryan Dempster (1-2, 6.30 ERA) at Coors Field in the finale of a three-game series.

In 153 Minor League games, Johnson posted a 56-42 record and a 4.55 ERA. He won 10 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs in each of the past two seasons and now is finally in the Majors.

"I've reached my ultimate dream, I guess, so now it's time to cross that off and make another goal," Johnson said. "I'm going to have butterflies. I'm not going to be nervous, but it's more anxious energy. Get out there and prove myself."

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Johnson's best pitch is his sinker, and the Colorado skipper expects a solid outing from the 27-year-old.

"He's a very, very competitive guy that will indoctrinate himself to exactly the philosophy that we've been working from since last year, getting after hitters and attacking hitters," Tracy said. "I really think this kid is going to come out here and make a statement for himself, I really do. He's a courageous enough guy. He will not back off, I know that for a fact."

Dempster gets the start for the Cubs coming off his first win of the season against the Astros, against whom he allowed four runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He also struck out nine. Dempster has had mixed results against the Rockies throughout his career, going 5-4 with a 6.79 ERA in 17 outings (10 starts).

Cubs: Quade so-so on season's start
• Through the first 14 games of the season, Cubs manager Mike Quade isn't sure what to think of his club's start. On one hand, there have been some good things. On the other, there is definitely room for improvement.

"I'm probably middling on the whole thing. I'm evaluating on a daily basis to see where are we, where are we going," Quade said. "We're kind of hanging around. We'd like to do more than hang around as we go on. At least for now, let's see where we're at and see if we can get healthy and get better. We're going to have to play better baseball if we're going to make an impact, that's for sure. We've showed signs of doing that, and we have to be more consistent doing that."

• Despite the slow starts by first baseman Carlos Pena (6-for-31) and outfielder Tyler Colvin (7-for-42), Quade isn't ready to push the panic button.

"We're 13 games in, so there's plenty of time for guys to figure things out," Quade said before Saturday's game.

• Kosuke Fukudome, who had missed four games because of a strained left hamstring, was back in the Cubs' lineup Saturday. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk.

Rockies: Iannetta impressing with power
• Catcher Chris Iannetta is hitting only .229, but he has packed a lot of power in his hits. Six of his eight hits have gone for extra bases, while he's also boasting a .408 on-base percentage. Iannetta said he came into the season feeling relaxed.

"I knew I was going to play. They made that pretty evident," Iannetta said. "I wanted to get my work in at Spring Training. I had goals of where I wanted to be and the work I wanted to get done that given day, and I used it as a progression instead of trying to get instant results and trying to win a job early."

• Carlos Gonzalez sat Saturday with a bit of stiffness and soreness, but Tracy said it wasn't serious. Tracy also said he hoped the off-day would clear the mind of Gonzalez, who is in the midst of a 3-for-24 slump.

"Offensively, obviously he's struggling a little bit," Tracy said Saturday. "He's going to get going. When a guy is just getting a little something here and a little something there, where you know there's a lot more in there than what you've seen, this is probably a great time to get him away from it and let him catch his breath and then start back over again tomorrow."

Worth noting
Chicago's 8-3 win on Saturday broke its six-game losing streak in Denver, which was its longest losing streak at Coors Field. ... With Saturday's win improving the Cubs to 7-7, they now have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6. The club record for consecutive stops at the .500 mark is the 1930 club, which made it to 8-8.

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