Down on the Dodger Farm June 12

The bunt was conceived by Dickey Pearce of the Brooklyn Atlantics back in the 1870's. Since then there have been a million or so players asked to emulate ole Dickey that do so in such a manner as to demonstrate that they clearly wish he'd never come up with the idea. Still, as their managers and coaches insist, it's one of those little things that can help win big games. A lesson that Chin-Lung Hu has definitely learned.

When you're in a four-team melee for a guaranteed playoff spot, all games tend to be vital and such was the case again for Columbus Saturday night. The Catfish went into the bottom of the eighth against division-leading Charleston, S.C. (Devil Rays) locked in a 2-2 tie. The top of the order was up whereupon Jereme Milons did what leadoff men are supposed to do -- he got on, lining a single.

This brought up Hu, the Taiwanese shortstop who's possessed of a multitude of skills. This time he laid down a bunt. Gorgeous. So good was it that it not only moved the runner up, he beat it out for a base hit. Then Andy LaRoche did what No. 3 hitters are supposed to do -- he drove them in, ripping a double and the Fish went on to a 4-2 win that closed the gap to 2 1/2 games in the SAL South.

That was the 18th double of the season for LaRoche and the hits were the second of the night for both Hui and Milons. Casey Hoorelbeke pitched very well (six innings, four hits, two runs ) as did Ozzie Rodriguez and Jose Diaz. Rodriguez went two scoreless for the victory, making him 2-1, and Diaz followed with a perfect ninth for his 14th save, best in the league and the organization.

The much-needed victory still left Columbus in fourth place, though, for Capital City is just one-game out in second with Rome 1 1/2 back in third.

Jacksonville lost ground in the Southern League East and it's easy to see why for the Suns are batting an anemic .181 in their last nine games. This time for the second night in a row they managed only four hits while losing to Carolina (Marlins) 7-1. T. J. Nall (4-2) was the victim, giving up five runs in five innings. Also for the second straight night, Shane Victorino provided the only Suns run, a line shot over the wall.

Jacksonville, too, is in fourth place, 2 1/2 behind Chattanooga with Carolina moving into a second-place tie with Tennessee, two games out.

His last start was the finest of the year for Edwin Jackson but that was followed by perhaps his worst as he was banged around for four runs in the first inning, five in all in just four innings of work last night as Las Vegas lost another, this one to Edmonton (Expos) 7-5. About the only highlight for the 51's was Luis Garcia's 17th home run as they sank further into last place in the PCL South, 10 games in arrears.

On Florida State All-Star night, Vero Beach's Russ Martin reached the finals of the home run hitting contest that preceded the game, only to lose a sudden death match for the title and the $1,000 watch that went with it. In the game itself, Vero players didn't distinguish themselves as Jonathan Broxton was ripped for all opposition runs in his one-inning stint as the West topped the East 4-1.

Chad Billingsley did throw a scoreless inning but shortstop Joel Guzman was 0-3 and Martin, 0-1.

Player Notes--Winston Abreau, who had been ejected from a Southern League game for hitting a batter after yielding three consecutive home runs, is out of the organization altogether, having received his release from Jacksonville.