Down on the Farm Report

Did you hear about how Joel Hanrahan did last night? Wait a minute, how about Chad Billingsley? Or Willie Aybar! Or Derek Michaelis! Rick Bell! Brian Falkenborg! Xavier Paul! Julio Pimentel! Even Tony Socarras! Oh, yeah, Saturday night was one to savor in the Dodger minor league system.

Msftedit; Let's begin with Hanrahan, one of the more touted of the myriad talented pitchers but who suffered through a sore arm all through spring training and who was less than effective in his first effort for the Las Vegas 51's. But Saturday, he was the Hanrahan everyone had a right to expect as he threw five innings of five-hit, one-run ball, walking zero and striking out five in a 5-1 victory over Portland (Padres), his first decision.

Then it was the turn of Falkenborg, a free-agent signee over the winter who's down on a rehab assignment He gave up only one hit over four innings, also walking none while K'ing five to gain a save.

Bell led the attack with three hits, Jose Garcia added two doubles and Antonio Perez hit his first home run.

If you want offense, talk about Jacksonville's 14-2 assault on West Tennessee (Cubs), a 20-hit bludgoning that came one night after the Suns' seven-game win streak had been snapped. Aybar, a second baseman these days, clouted a fifth-inning grand slam, tossed in a double and single and wound up with six runs batted in.

Of course there was plenty more as Michaelis hit his third homer of the season plus a double and two singles, Jason Repko had a double and two singles, and part-time catcher Socarras hist first home run, a double and single. Even starting pitcher Harold Eckert wielded a lusty bat with a double and single..

Eckert, who had come from the Mets in a late-spring trade for David Detienne and Mike Collins, did just fine on the mound, too, holding the Diamond Jaxx to five hits and two runs over six innings to run his record to 2-0.

Like Hanrahan, righthander Chad Billingsley is one of the more highly regarded pitchers around and like Hanrahan he looked the part last night as Vero Beach edged Palm Beach 2-1. Billingsley, LA's top draft choice last summer, rebbounded from a not-so-effective first start with six innings of two -hit shutout work, striking out nine while walking two.

He left leading 1-0 but the Cards picked up a run over reliever Steve Schmoll to force extra innings. But Brian Steffek (2-0) turned them away for two and when Alex Requena lined his third hit and came in to score on a ground out, the Dodgers moved to 5-6 for the season.

Paul hit his second home run in as many nights, also singled and racked up three RBI as Columbus made it over .500 in a 5-0 triumph over Augusta (Red Sox). Pimentel, the 18-year-old righthander who has vaulted from the Dominican League, was extremely effective as he scattered four hits over six innings, recording five strikeouts.

Carlos Alvarez for one inning and Marcos Carvajal for two finished the shutout.