CHICAGO — Claps of thunder matched the home run cracks of the bats for much of Thursday's game at Wrigley Field, and the only question was whether severe weather eventually would put a stop to this festival of slugging.
After nearly six innings and six home runs by the Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs, the taunting thunder and lightning finally resulted in a hard rain that delayed the game for more than an hour with the Cubs leading, 12-5.
Then, it took the grounds crew 45 minutes to make the field, which was as smudged as Tammy Faye Bakker's face after a good cry, playable.
By that time, the umpires decided to suspend the game because of darkness.
The game will be resumed today at 11:05 a.m. PDT with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning and Jody Davis at bat. Following the completion of Thursday's game, the teams will begin today's regularly scheduled game.
Brad Havens will be on the mound for the Dodgers, replacing reliever Alejandro Pena, who gave up solo home runs to Manny Trillo and Keith Moreland before the rain came.
"That rain hit quick, but it was two innings too late for us," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said.
The game had so much explosiveness and interesting sidelights that maybe two days are needed to finish it.
A 23-m.p.h. southerly wind, blowing toward left field, greeted the teams early Thursday afternoon.
But the wind, in addition to blowing out seemingly routine fly balls, also blew in a storm that pelted Wrigley for a half-hour, leaving parts of the infield resembling a swamp.
Before that, baseballs were flying out of and all over the park because of the wind, the humidity and weak pitching.
The Dodgers, who have played nearly 44 innings in 48 hours after consecutive doubleheaders in St. Louis, found themselves down early as the well-rested Cubs nailed starter Rick Honeycutt for six runs in the third.
There were no home runs in that scoring bonanza. Those would come later. Chicago simply put together a two-run single by Gary Matthews, a two-run double by Paul Noce and a two-run single by Mike Brumley.
The Cubs' lead was sliced to 6-1 in the top of the fourth when Mike Marshall scored on Mickey Hatcher's bloop single to left field off Cub starter Rick Sutcliffe.
Then the home run festival, accompanied by thunder and lightning, began.
In the bottom of the fourth, the diminutive Noce hit a three-run home run to left off Brian Holton that seemed to be a routine fly ball caught in the wind. That made it 9-1, but with the weather conditions as they were, even that lead did not appear safe.
The Dodgers got to Sutcliffe in the top of the fifth with the home run as the chief weapon. John Shelby struck first, hitting a two-run homer to right-center. On the next pitch, Pedro Guerrero launched a shot that carried over the left-field seats and onto Waveland Avenue to make it 9-4.
As an added attraction to Guerrero's 18th home run of the season, he and Sutcliffe exchanged words because Guerrero lingered near home plate and watched the ball leave the park.
Sutcliffe waved his arms at Guerrero to get moving around the bases, and Guerrero answered him by strolling, not trotting, around.
The next inning, Franklin Stubbs hit a homer to right off Scott Sanderson to reduce the Cubs' lead to 9-5.
But the Cubs, who have hit 21 home runs in their last 11 games, struck for two more in the sixth--Trillo and Moreland connecting off Pena--before the rain prevented any further shots, at least until today.
Guerrero said he has no ill feeling toward Sutcliffe, who roomed with Guerrero in their minor league days, when both played in the Dodger organization. But Guerrero also said he did not think his standard homer-watching procedure was out of line.
"It surprised me," Guerrero said. "We're supposed to be close friends. I wasn't upset. I don't think he has any right to be upset. When he strikes me out, I don't get upset. I smile.
"I don't think I did anything wrong. That's my style. I always do that when I hit a home run. I never try to show anybody up. We're friends. We'll talk about it."
Sutcliffe's only comment was a no-comment.
"I don't fight my battles in the papers," he said. "I'll handle it my own way."
Sutcliffe had to leave the game after the fifth inning with a bruised right finger, so there will not be a rematch between the two today.
Afterward, Lasorda said he hopes the wind--but not the rain and thunder--will be back today. Otherwise, the Cubs' seven-run lead seemed insurmountable.
"That's what you need," Lasorda said. "You got to have that edge to catch up in a game like this."