Down on the Dodger Farm May 30

Nelson Castro is almost an anachronism. You don't see his kind much anymore -- a minor league lifer who's been around for 11 seasons without ever playing in the big leagues But you don't get to play in over 900 games without helping your team in a lot of ways. Which is exactly what Castro was doing for Jacksonville, Sunday.

The shortstop from the Dominican Republic, who's about to turn 28 June 4 and who signed with the Dodgers as a free agent last summer, stroked his second double of the day in the ninth inning, then went on to score the winning run on a sac fly by Brennan King as the Suns came from behind to edge Birmingham (White Sox) 5-4 and gain some ground in the Southern League East.

The victory carried the Suns to sole possession of second place in their division, a game behind Chattanooga. They earned it by scoring single runs in each of the last three innings, handing the win to Brian Steffek (1-1), who went the final two. Derek Thompson made an effective start, checking the Barons on seven hits and two runs over seven. Just-promoted Jamaal Hamilton, who had given up only one earned run all season for Columbus, made his first appearance here only to be reached for one in the two innings he worked.

James Loney, who has raised his average to .294, turned on the juice for his first home run and added a single while Derek Michaelis was good for two hits as well.

Tom Farmer made his first truly effective start of the year for Las Vegas and received backing from Koyie Hill and Nick Theodorou as Las Vegas conquered Tacoma (Mariners) 6-1. Farmer held the Raniers to five hits and a single run in 5.2 innings, striking out seven, walking only one. It was his second victory against three losses.

Hill slammed homer No. 8 plus a single to drive in three and Theodorou also was good for three RBI, in his case with a pair of doubles. The 51's are now 7 1/2 out in the Pacific Coast South.

Once again Vero Beach fell back from the .500 plateau it had reached the day before, losing to the Daytona Cubs 4-1. Lefthander Mike Megrew, who is becoming the team's most consistent starter, held the Cubs down on four hits for seven innings but left in a 1-1 deadlock. Manager Scott Little went for Richard Bartlett (2-1), who hadn't been scored on in his last six outings; however, this time he was banged around for three runs in 1.2 innings.

Russ Mitchell collected three hits with Alex Requena and Brian Sprout each chipping in with two. Requena also became the first player in the organization to steal 20 bases. With the loss Vero is six back in the Florida State East.

Columbus, which had the day off, now begins a vital series, hosting Charleston, S.C., which it trails by two games in the South Atlantic Southern Division.