Down on the Dodgers Farm

It was the moment Elvin Nina had been waiting eight seasons for, maybe, all his life. 14th inning, two out, bases jammed and Jacksonville is out of position players. Manager Dino Ebel turns to his pitcher and says,"Get a hit." Nina goes up, swings, hits a roller that bounces off the mound, then trickles into center as the winning run comes home. Oh, how sweet it is!

That single was the first-ever hit of the professional career of Nina that began back in 1997. It gave the Suns a 2-1 victory over Chattanooga (Reds), a 3-hour and 55 -minute marathon that a crowd of 9,211 -- at least, at the beginning -- had turned out at the Baseball Grounds to see. What made it even sweeter was it put the Suns in sole possession of the Southern League East again as Carolina lost.

Derek Thompson was the starter for Jacksonville and he went six in which he allowed only that single run the Lookouts were able to score. Then came Jose Rojas, Franquelis Osoria, Yhency Brazoban and finally Nina. Each worked two with Nina, a 28-year-old Dominican native who attended Oklahoma State, the winner (4-3) and ultimate hero. Wilkin Ruan had three hits to break a 4-for-47 slump, Jason Repko, a pair of doubles while Nelson Castro and Brennan King each a pair of hits along the way.

There was a big crowd at Las Vegas, too, 9,166, in the town that aspires to attain a big league team, but it wasn't handed a victory as the 51's bullpen blew a 4-3 lead gained on Luis Garcia's 10th homer and New Orleans (Astros) rallied to win, 6-5. Daylon Holt went 3-for-3 including his first home run while Jose Flores chipped in with two hits. Joel Hanrahan went six innings in which he was gave up six hits and three runs, all solo shots. The winning run against Troy Brohawn (0-3) counted on an error. The loss left Vegas five 1/2 back in the Pacific Coast South.

For the fourth straight game, Vero Beach could come up with only one run as the Dodgers dropped their fifth in a row, losing to the Sarasota Red Sox, 5-1. Once more a fine starting effort was wasted, as Mike Megrew threw five innings, holding the Sox to three hits and no runs while striking out eight. However, Jonathan Figueroa (0-1) couldn't get anybody out in the seventh being mugged for three hits and walk. Russ Mitchell banged a double and two singles as the Dodgers fell eight back in the Florida State East.

Columbus is now three behind in the South Atlantic Southern Division as it was held to five hits and edged 3-2 by Hagerstown (Giants). Chuck Tiffany was effective for five, being touched for four hits and a solitary run but the Suns rallied against Arturo Lopez (1-1). Tony Abreau with a double and single plus a stolen base was what little offense the Catfish, who've now lost four of their last five, could come up with.

Player Moves--James Loney was finally activated at Jacksonville but it was a long, rough evening for him as he went 0-for-6, striking out three times. He'd been out a month with a broken finger. The Suns added reliever Brian Steffek from Vero, sending Jesse Hoorelbeke back to that team.