Down on the Dodger Farm

For Harold Eckert and the Dodgers, the second time around is the one worth waiting for. The first time he didn't even make it to the field; now he's not only out there, he's pitching winning baseball. And victories have suddenly become a rare commodity in the system the last few days.

Behind Eckert, Las Vegas downed New Orleans (Astros) 7-2; however, the losing streaks for the other three LA farms all reached three in a row as each dropped a one-run decision. Jacksonville fell before the Greenville Braves 4-3, Vero Beach was edged by the Sarasota Red Sox 2-1 and Columbus continued its unpleasant stay in Ohio, dropping a 5-4 decision to Lake County (Indians) in extra innings.

Eckert, a 26-year-old righthander, had been drafted by LA back in 1999 but arrived with an arm injury so severe that the contract was voided. He subsequently signed with the Mets and was with them for three years only to come back into the fold in a late spring trade. He began the season in the Jacksonville rotation but did so well he was moved up. Wednesday night he was in total control, holding New Orleans to four hits and one run over six innings to even his AAA record at 1-1.

The 51 hitters backed his effort with Luis Garcia launching his eighth home run, Jose Flores chipping in with a pair of doubles, Nick Theodorou and Cody Ross both banging out a double and single and Shane Victorino two singles. All this snapped a three-game losing streak, leaving Vegas five 1/2 back in the Pacific Coast South.

Pretty much everything else was gloom though. Jacksonville now has company at the top of the Southern League East as it squandered a 3-1 lead built behind Glenn Bott, who went six. The Braves then bounced Franquelis Osoria for two and picked up the winner off Yhency Brazoban, his initial defeat of the season after three victories. Nick Alvarez was the lone Sun with two hits as they now share first place with Carolina.

Vero continued in the hitting doldrums, managing only a double by Joel Guzman plus two singles as a trip to the west side of Florida started badly. Dimas Reina (3-2) did his part, holding the Sox to four hits and two runs (one earned) in six but the paltry attack sent the Dodgers into the basement of the Florida State East, six games out.

Meanwhile Columbus was still another team to let a lead get away, losing in 10. Zach Hammes went six, leaving with a 4-3 margin only to have Jamaal Hamilton finally give up his first earned run of the season in 18 innings of work. The Captains then got to Omar DeLos Santos (1-2) for the winner.

Chin-Lung Hu continued his hot hand at the plate with his third homer and 10th double. He's now 7-for-14 in a three-game stretch. Jimmy Rohan also was good for two hits but the Catfish now trail by two games in the South Atlantic Southern Division.