Down on the Farm Report

Randy Leek has never depended upon blowing the opposition away. What he does is set the batter up, keep him off-balance by changing speeds and never, never give in. It's knowledge coupled with persistence that has brought Leek back from two serious arm operations. When he's right, he makes pitching the art form that it can be. Sunday afternoon he painted the plate like Picasso.

Leek, a 27-year-old lefthander, entered the Dodger system via the Rule 5 draft in December 2001 already having had one operation. Another cost him the entire 2003 season.

But Sunday, making only his second start for Jacksonville since finishing rehabilitation, he was oh, so close to perfection, retiring 19 straight to bring him within two outs of the perfecto in the seven-inning second game of a doubleheader at Montgomery (Devil Rays).

Alas, an infield single spoiled the dream, a home run followed to end the shutout and he had to settle for an 11-2 victory, his first decision of the season.

A three-run homer off Glenn Bott (1-2) cost the Suns the opening game, one in which they managed to scrounge up only four hits. But the second contest, the bats were thundering as Brennan King was 3-3, while Jason Repko, Brett Dowdy, Nick Alvarez and Nelson Castro all had two hits. Repko's total included his second home run and Derek Michaelis smashed his fifth, tops in the organization. Dowdy, just promoted from Vero Beach, had a key triple, good for three RBI.

The split left Jacksonville with a 17-7 record but shaved their division lead to two games.

A wild pitch in the ninth inning by Mike Johnson sent the winning run home for Fresno (Giants) as once again the Grizzlies came on in the late going to win their fifth straight and send Las Vegas to its fourth defeat in succession. Doug Nickle received his first start of the season for the 51's and responded brilliantly, going five innings in which he gave up only one hit.

Rodney Myers followed with two scoreless so the 51's led 3-0 going into the ninth but Agustin Montero walked the only two men he faced, Troy Brohawn (0-2) managed only one out while the score was being tied whereupon Johnson came in to throw the pitch that bounced away, catcher Ryan Kellner's return throw was high as the 51's sank into a last-place tie in the Pacific Coast League's South Division.

Rick Bell doubled and singled and Luis Garcia collected two hits for Vegas, now 9-15.

Vero Beach (11-14) started quickly and never really let up to outlast Jupiter (Marlins) 12-7. Scott Gillitzer with a double and three singles led the way while Trey Dyson and Brian Goelz joined in with three hits with Chris Testa and A. J. Ellis contributing two each. Jarod Plummer, making his first start since his promotion from Columbus, was the recipient of all this largesse, going five in which he was touched for four runs (three earned)

Columbus was rained out at Greensboro.

Injury Update--Jacksonville second baseman Willie Aybar has a strained leg muscle and is listed as day-to-day. At Vero, Brian Sprout returned from a sprained ankle and played first base with Jimmy Rohan shifting to shortstop.