Down on the Dodger Farm

There are over 50 players in the Dodgers' Dominican base, Campo Las Palmas, but because of visa restrictions only about a half-dozen make it over here each year. Then the usual mode is to put in a season in the rookie leagues and go from there. Julio Pimentel is an exception to that rule. In fact, at time's he's proving to be exceptional. Such a time occurred Saturday night.

Pimentel is a 6-1, 190-pound, 19-year-old righthander who pitched only eight games in the Dominican League last summer but who's impressed Dodger brass so much that he was promoted all the way to Columbus this spring. Last night he showed why again as he threw five scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory over Savannah (Expos).

He allowed only three hits during that span to chalk up his fifth victory, tops on the team (he's lost four times), striking out five while walking three. Such a strong performance was absolutely necessary for the Catfish were held to two hits themselves but still came out ahead to push back into contention on the SAL South.

The speed of Jereme Milons gave the Fish their first run in the fourth as he beat out an infield hit, stole second, took third on a fly ball and scored on an infield grounder. Mike Nixon singled for the only other hit in the fifth and wound up scoring the winner, thanks to a wild pitch and an error.

Savannah picked up their run in the seventh off converted infielder Brett Wayne but Chad Bailey and Jose Diaz (save 13) held them off in the final two innings for the victory that moved Columbus into second place, just 1 1/2 behind Charleston, S.C.

The other Dodger team that's genuinely in the race lost ground, though as Jacksonville could manage only three hits and was blanked by Carolina (Marlins) 4-0. That carried Carolina past the Suns into second place in the Southern League East with the winning Mudcats two games back of leading Chattanooga and Jacksonville a half-game further in arrears.

Making a spot start in place of Derek Thompson (suffering some arm soreness), Dimas Reina gave up only five hits and two runs in five innings but it was enough to lose his first decision since coming up from Vero Beach.

Las Vegas didn't lack for hits, pounding out 13, but the pitching and the defense fell apart so Tacoma (Mariners) held on for an 11-10 win. Jose Flores had three hits with Antonio Perez, Luis Garcia, Daylon Holt and Shane Victorino each contributing two but that wasn't enough as the Raniers reached Tom Farmer for seven runs, then roughed up Augustin Montero (0-3) for three in the eighth to put them over the top.

With the loss, Vegas is nine games out in the PCL South.

Fort Meyers (Twins) avoided a four-game sweep by Vero Beach, snapping the Dodgers' win streak with a 7-3 triumph. Mike Rodriguez (1-1) started with three hitless innings but three hits and three runs in the fourth did him in. A. J. Ellis hit his first homer for Vero now seven out in the Florida State East with the first half about to end.