Down on the Dodgers Farm

Manager Terry Kennedy of Las Vegas isn't sure if he'll have Tanyon Sturtze around much longer but he does know he's found another member of his rotation. Hearing that Sturtze, the most effective 51's pitcher thus far, had been traded to the Yankees, Kennedy scratched him Thursday and substituted Mark Johnson. Well, the deal hasn't come through -- at least, not yet -- but Johnson did, in a big way.

Johnson, a 29 year-old righthander in his eighth season, had been just okay as a reliever but in his initial start he was a lot better than that, using his sinker to go five shutout innings as Vegas got past New Orleans (Astros) 4-3. He didn't wind up with the win for Doug Nickle had trouble after he departed but he was so impressive, holding the Zephyrs to just three hits in his span that Kennedy said he'll keep on starting, even if the deal for Sturtze never gets done.

Antonio Perez had a double, two singles and scored the winning run for Rod Myers (4-0) while Luis Garcia slammed his organizational-best ninth home run and both Rick Bell and Shane Victorino contributed two hits. The 51's moved to within four 1/2 games of the top in the Pacific Coast South as a result.

While Jacksonville and Vero Beach continued on their weary losing paths, both dropping their fourth straight, Columbus finally broke out in a wild affair, outlasting Lake County (Indians) 8-6 to stay two games back in the South Atlantic Southern Division. Although Lake jumped on Julio Pimentel for four runs in the fourth, the Catfish counted seven times in the next two innings, then held on.

Jereme Milons lined a key-two run triple and added a single to account for three RBI and Tony Abreau ripped two doubles in the assault. Marcos Carvajal was the beneficiary of the rally to earn his first decision while Jumbo Diaz was once again the big man out of the pen, coming in to strike out two of the three men he faced in the ninth for his eighth save.

Jacksonville comes home still in a tie with Carolina for first place in the Southern League East after being swept by the Greenville Braves, the latest, 8-5. Randy Leek (1-1) was ineffective for the first time, being waxed for seven runs in four innings. Jason Repko smashed his fifth homer and Derek Michaelis had two hits.

Vero and the Sarasota Red Sox went at it mano y mano for 11 innings before the Dodgers managed a run in the top of the 12th. Back came the Sox, however, for a pair in the bottom of the frame, scoring the winner on a wild throw by outfielder Bryan Goelz.

It was the third game in a row in which Vero managed a lone run, again frustrating some strong pitching as Jonathan Broxton, Steve Schmoll, and Rich Bartlett were excellent. Broxton pitched six in which he allowed only two hits while striking out nine, raising his league-leading total to 58. Then it was Schmoll for three, in which the Sox had a solitary hit, followed by Bartlett for two hitless innings. In the 12th, though, two hits plus the error did in Brian Steffek (3-2).

Joel Guzman tripled and singled and Russ Mitchell had a pair of hits along the way as Vero dropped seven games back in the Florida State East.