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Wrigley Field power outage causes delay

Wrigley Field power outage causes delay

CHICAGO -- The lights went out at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night because of a fire in the Lakeview neighborhood.

The ballpark went dark at 8:25 p.m. CT in the top of the fourth inning of the Cubs' 8-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Chicago trailing, 5-2. Tom Gorzelanny was throwing a 3-1 pitch to Blake DeWitt when the lights suddenly went out. Home-plate umpire Wally Bell called a ball.

"That's something new," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "That didn't help either pitcher either, because they had to sit out there for 15, 20 minutes. That's a long time."

Gorzelanny took the loss in the game but didn't blame the electric company for the problem.

"The lights went out during the pitch," Gorzelanny said. "It's kind of brutal. You're in the middle of a pitch. The guy ends up walking. There's nothing you can do about it. I begged for the pitch back, but they wouldn't give it to me.

"The good thing about that was I actually did well the rest of the inning," he said. "It's one of the uncontrollable things that ballparks do to you."

DeWitt said he saw a flash and took his eyes off the pitch.

"Thinking back, I wish I had hit a pop up," DeWitt said. "It would've been a good time. I would've had an inside the park home run in the dark."

An electrical fire occurred in the neighborhood in the 3800 block of North Racine, near Racine and Grace streets, that caused the Fire Department and Commonwealth Edison to enact an emergency shutdown to the power grid that included Wrigley Field.

During the shutdown, the Cubs transferred from their primary service to their secondary service for the ballpark. Because of the nature of the emergency shutdown, the transfer didn't happen automatically, thus the loss of the lighting at Wrigley.

Once the lights went out, it took 18 minutes for them to cool down and reignite in order for play to be resumed.

Players came off the field and the umpires huddled together, eating sunflower seeds. What was Cubs second baseman Ryan Theriot thinking?

"Get the heck out and get off the field as soon as I could," Theriot said. "That was a little scary. I didn't know what was going on."

"It was a little crazy," left fielder Alfonso Soriano said.

The electronic-scoreboard lights along the upper-deck-seating area remained on, the press-box lighting and power worked. Organist Gary Pressy never stopped playing.

About 15 minutes after it was dark, the lights slowly came on and players returned to the field.

This was the third time there's been a mini blackout during a night game at Wrigley. On June 24, 2003, there was an outage in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers. That delay lasted about 15 minutes. On May 6, 2003, the Lakeview neighborhood had a power outage and the lights went out at Wrigley for another Cubs-Brewers game, this time in the ninth inning. That stoppage lasted 15 minutes as well.

Wrigley was the last Major League ballpark to get lights when they were installed in 1988.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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