Lights go out in Chicago, but not on Dodgers’ hopes for a win

Reporting from Chicago -- Blake DeWitt can laugh about it now, safe and sound. But there is nothing funny about playing baseball in the dark, about a 90-mph fastball coming your way and no sense of where to turn within that split second.

This was the night the lights went out at Wrigley Field. The pitch was headed toward home plate, the stadium lights flickered before dying, and DeWitt reacted on instinct.

“I’ve never seen that before, and it’s not a really good feeling,” he said. “I completely took my eye off the ball and the pitcher.

“That’s one of those scary moments. If he pitches inside right there, you’re not going to have a real chance to get out of the way.”

Fortunately, the ball did not come close to DeWitt, and so the Dodgers took home a quirky memory as well as a victory Wednesday. James Loney finished a home run shy of the cycle and Casey Blake doubled and homered, leading the Dodgers to an 8-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

In the fourth inning, the game was delayed 18 minutes by a power outage. The Cubs said a nearby electrical fire forced the local utility company and fire department to shut down power to the entire neighborhood, leaving the stadium in the dark until a backup lighting system kicked in.

“I’ve never seen that before,” Dodgers coach Mariano Duncan said. “I’ve seen it in the Dominican, in winter ball, but I’ve never seen it here.”

The Cubs told the Dodgers about how long it would take to restore the lighting, so the Dodgers players hung out in the dugout, enjoying the twilight intermission. Perhaps no player enjoyed the respite more than starting pitcher Chad Billingsley, who had thrown 33 pitches in the bottom of the third inning.

“I was working up a sweat,” he said. “It was kind of nice to have that breather after that half-inning.”

After Rafael Furcal booted a potential double-play grounder -- his third error in two games since returning from the disabled list -- Billinsgley walked Tyler Colvin to load the bases, then hit Mike Fontenot to force home a run. But Billingsley beat back the ghost of the big inning, retiring the next three batters and convincing Manager Joe Torre that he was fresh enough to remain in the game after the delay.

“If that’s the fifth or sixth inning, that’s a tough call,” Torre said.

The Dodgers frittered away most of a 5-0 lead on a night when Torre wanted to stay away from taxed relievers Ramon Troncoso and Jeff Weaver.

Torre called upon closer Jonathan Broxton for a five-out save, his first such save since April 23, 2009. Broxton got five outs on 16 pitches and pronounced himself ready for Thursday’s game.

“You can go one inning and throw 30 pitches,” he said, “or you can go an inning and two-thirds, or two innings, on 20 pitches -- and you usually feel better.”

Torre said the strained calf that put Manny Ramirez on the disabled list might not be all better. Ramirez committed one error and could have been charged with another, for failing to play Jeff Baker’s triple properly.

“He said it was his fault,” Torre said. “He thought it was going out of the ballpark, so he stopped running after it.”

The Dodgers won, and they exhaled. DeWitt dodged a fastball in the dark, and for that they were grateful.

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