Down on the Dodgers Farm July 6

When Willie Aybar was signed for over a million dollars in 2000, he was immediately compared to Adrian Beltré. Unfairly, perhaps, and prematurely, certainly for while Beltré shot through the system to arrive on the big league scene, Aybar's move upward has been much slower and sometimes not all that steady. Mature he has, though, a process that is much more evident these days for he's become the offensive leader at Jacksonville, has mastered a position switch and, remember, he's still only 21.

Aybar, who made the move from third to second at the start of the season, has provided strong defense at his new position on a consistent basis. His abilities with the bat have been much more evident as well. He's already matched his career home run high with 11 and Tuesday night he rapped his 19th double, added a pair of singles, pushing his average to .283 and took over the team lead in runs batted in with 49 to lead the Suns past Carolina 6-0.

His hitting backed righthander T. J. Nall, who held the Mudcats to two hits over 6.2 innings. Nall, now 5-4 and just named to the Southern League All-Star team, was helped by Jose Rojas and Elvin Nina, who completed the shutout. Shane Victorino had three hits while Derek Michaelis contributed a pair of doubles.

The Suns are seven back in the East Division.

Elsewhere, Vero stayed hot but not so the other entries.

Vero Beach 6, Lakeland 3--Alex Requena is noted for his speed not his power yet it was his second home run of the season that ignited a three-run surge in the eighth. Reggie Abercrombie (2) and Joel Guzman (12) hit back-to-back shots in the first and Guzman came through again with a key double in the eighth. Chad Billingsley made an uneven start (4.1 innings, seven hits, three runs). Jamaal Hamilton and Richard Bartlett (4-2) were strong in relief, however.

Tucson 5, Las Vegas 1--The 51's managed only six hits with Jason Repko and Chin-Feng Chen splitting four of those between them. Mark Johnson (3-7) was the loser as Vegas fell 16 out in the PCL South.

Charleston, S.C. 6, Columbus 5--The Catfish made three errors in the ninth to allow the Riverdogs to come from a two-run deficit to score three unearned runs off Chris Testa (1-1). Jonathan Figueroa made his second good start, going five in which he yielded five hits and two runs. Xavier Paul was 3-for-3 with a double. The defeat evened the Columbus record at 6-6, leaving them three behind in the SAL South.

Mets 9, GCL Dodgers 8--In a rare night game at St. Lucie, the Mets climbed on Miguel Ramirez (0-1) for six runs in the second, then held off a late Dodger surge when they scored four in the ninth. The defeat coupled with a Marlins' doubleheader sweep over the Expos left the Dodgers and Marlins tied for first in the East with 8-6 records.

Jamie Hoffman pounded two triples and David Sutherland singled three times for L.A.'s entry.

Ogden- Provo--A power failure in Provo caused this Pioneer League game to be suspended but not before the Raptors were being embarrassed. When it resumes, they will be trailing 9-0.

Player Notes--James Loney, who has had more than his share of physical problems, has another. An eye infection kept the Jacksonville first baseman out of the lineup.

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