FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON It’s the finale of the Carolina Mudcats’ five-game series with the Jacksonville Suns that constitutes the entire homestand.

Mudcats infielder Jake Kahaulelio
  • Photo by Nikolaus © 2010 Carolina Mudcats
  • Mudcats infielder Jake Kahaulelio

Jacksonville has already claimed the series after two straight victories. The Mudcats are four games out of the lead in the Southern League’s North Division, while first-half champion Jacksonville is just half a game out in the South.

At game time there are nothing but clouds in the sky, the second day of a welcome change from a long period of hot weather.

Mudcats ace lefty Tom Cochran (7-5) is on the hill against fellow southpaw Andrew Miller (1-5), who was Detroit’s first-round pick in 2006 out of UNC.

But there will be no pitchers’ duel today.

And the Mudcats finally get the best of one, claiming an 8-5 victory on getaway day.

The Mudcats get two in the first as Jake Kahaulelio hits a one-out double to left, Mike Costanzo hits a two-out RBI double to center and Luis Terrero follows with an RBI double to left.

Jacksonville comes back with four in the third. Miller leads off with a single to right, followed by a walk to Lorenzo Scott and an infield hit by Ozzie Martinez. Vinny Rottino adds a two-run single to left, and Matt Dominguez singles to center before Ryan Curry hits an RBI grounder to Kris Negron that the shortstop plays into an additional unearned run.

The Mudcats tie it in the bottom of the frame as Costanzo and Terrero hit back-to-back one-out singles and Chris Denove brings them both home with a two-out single to left.

Carolina tacks on two more in the fourth. Negron hits a one-out single to right, followed by Kahaulelio’s single to second. After the runners execute a double steal, Dave Sappelt walks. Negron comes home on Miller’s throwing error, followed by Terrero’s sacrifice fly to right to make it 6-4.

And the Mudcats add two more in the sixth, when Negron reaches on an error to third baseman Dominguez followed by Kahaulelio’s RBI double and Sappelt’s RBI single.

Jacksonville cuts it to 8-5 in the seventh. Martinez leads off with a double to right and scores on Dominguez’ one-out single to the mound.

Kahaulelio leads the Mudcats with two doubles and a single and scored three runs, while Costanzo and Terrero each double and single. Ruben Medina (3-0) is the winning pitcher, facing only 10 batters in the middle three innings and allowing neither a run, a hit nor a walk.

Miller (1-6) gives up six runs — four earned — on eight hits with a strikeout and four walks in five innings.

They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “It was a really good team effort. A lot of good things happened. Costanzo had a nice game off a left-handed pitcher and Jake swung the bat good. And our bullpen really did a good job. Tommy didn’t have his normal feel out there and we had to use a few guys, but they gave us a chance to win the game.”

Kahaulelio: “We’re trying to push to win first place, and we’ve got a big series with Huntsville coming up on the road, so we needed a win. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve got a lot of friends on that Jacksonville team and we respect them, but playing them is getting kind of old.”

Costanzo: “We definitely needed this one before the road trip. We did a good job sitting on Miller’s fastball. We played good defense and had a few timely hits today.”

What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats are back to .500 for the second half.

Stars of the game
1. Kahaulelio.
2. Costanzo.
3. Medina.

Play of the game

The Mudcats’ double steal in the fourth.

Season series
Jacksonville leads 15-11.

Carolina: Won 1.
Jacksonville: Lost 1.

Carolina: None.
Jacksonville: RHP Todd Doolittle promoted to New Orleans.

On deck
Birmingham at Jacksonville, Monday, 7:05 p.m.

Justin Edwards (L, 3-7, 5.90) vs. Jeff Allison (R, 6-6, 4.34)

Mudcats at Huntsville, Monday, 8 p.m.

Travis Webb (L, 5-7, 5.40) vs. TBA