PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Dempster wasn't distracted by the trade rumors, but he wasn't happy about his outing or being pulled after six innings.
Dempster served up two solo home runs and a go-ahead RBI double to Garrett Jones in the sixth to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Cubs. After Dempster was pulled from the game, he slammed the water cooler and threw a bottle in the dugout.
"There were a couple mistake pitches on the home runs," Dempster said. "[Andrew] McCutchen hit his ball good [in the sixth], Garrett Jones hit a good pitch, a split down on the top of the plate, and he just ripped it in the corner for the go-ahead run and it was good enough to win. I felt really good and had a chance to win the game but didn't make enough pitches."
Was he surprised Cubs manager Dale Sveum lifted him?
"Yeah," Dempster said.
Is that why he rearranged the dugout?
"Yeah," he said.
Was he still upset?
"No, I'm OK -- I'm fine," Dempster said. "I'm allowed to be upset. I respect [Sveum] a lot. It's his decision. That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. At the end of the day, he has to do what's best for the ballclub, and I have nothing but respect for that. I'm just a competitor and want to stay out there and pitch."
"People are competitive," Sveum said, "and sometimes they're going to get upset about things."
That was the first time Dempster and Sveum have clashed.
"Maybe visibly," Sveum said, laughing.
Since Dempster threw 33 consecutive scoreless innings, he has given up seven runs on 12 hits over 12 innings in his last two starts. A free-agent-to-be, he is still a hot commodity on the trade market. The speculation on where the right-hander could go won't end until Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"It's that time of year," Sveum said. "Anything can happen on any hour, any minute. We've still got six days [until the Deadline], and right now we just focus on what we've got and everybody's in the rotation and all the hitters are still here. We don't worry about that, we can't worry about that. It's part of the game."
Earlier Wednesday, Braves general manager Frank Wren said his team had moved on, and was no longer pursuing Dempster.
"I'm sure he'll try to do what's best for the Atlanta Braves," Dempster said. "I respect that. I respect Frank Wren a lot. I've known him for a long time. He was an assistant GM in Florida and I know [manager] Fredi [Gonzalez] and those guys, but they also have a job to do and that's to better their team, and they can't wait around for me to make my decision. I understand that fully. If that's still an option down the road, it's something I'll have to look at. I'll try to make the best decision for me and my family."
The Dodgers were reportedly still interested in Dempster. There could be more teams.
"It's been a little bit of a grind, but it's been a lot of fun, too," Dempster said of the last few days. "We won a couple games, too, and won a series after a tough series in St. Louis. We can enjoy our off-day tomorrow."
With no deal done, the rumors will continue.
"I'm getting pretty used to it now," he said.
Sveum felt Dempster would be able to ignore all the talk.
"It's not the easiest thing in the world to do, and I don't care who you are and what kind of character you are," Sveum said. "The position that he's put himself in -- to be a commodity -- and the great year he's having pitching, he's at that part of his career where it's going to happen. He's pretty focused and he's pitching well. I'm not going to say it's easy, but hopefully, he goes out and he can block all that out."
Rookie Anthony Rizzo, who dropped a couple balls in batting practice into the Allegheny River, gave Dempster (5-5) a 1-0 lead with two outs in the first when he crushed his fifth home run on an 0-2 pitch from Kevin Correia. The ball might have cleared the bleachers but landed in the back row. Neil Walker answered in the Pirates' first with his ninth home run.
David DeJesus hit what he thought was his third homer with one out in the third. The ball ended up in the first row of the center-field seats, but second-base umpire Joe West signaled double. Sveum challenged the call, but after a review, the double was upheld, as the umpires ruled that a fan interfered with the ball.
The Cubs got the run back one out later when DeJesus scored on Rizzo's single to go ahead, 2-1.
"If a [fan] reaches over the fence and he drops the ball, it usually drops into play," Sveum said. "They reviewed it, and unfortunately it didn't go our way. Luckily, we scored that run anyway."
Casey McGehee hit a comebacker in the bottom of the fifth that Dempster appeared to deflect off his leg with his glove before throwing to first for the out. Michael McKenry then tied the game one batter later with his eighth home run on a 3-2 pitch.
With one out in the Pirates' sixth, Alex Presley singled, and reached third one out later on McCutchen's single before scoring on Jones' double. Dempster was then pulled, having given up five hits and striking out six. He began the day first in the Majors with a 2.11 ERA, but it jumped to 2.25.
Now, he's got some time to make a decision.
"I had a job to do today and that's really important to me so I had to try to separate the two things," Dempster said. "I have tonight and an off-day [Thursday] to look at a couple different things and see what the possibilities are."
His next scheduled start would be Tuesday night against the Pirates. The Trade Deadline is 3 p.m. CT that day.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.