JACKSONVILLE, FLA. - Jacksonville starter Clayton Kershaw and Carolina starter Ryan Tucker battled through six innings, but timely late-inning runs gave the Carolina Mudcats (9-3) a 2-0 victory over the Jacksonville Suns (4-8) in front of 2,792 Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Tucker (1-1) picked up the victory for Carolina with six shutout innings, allowing only three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Kershaw (0-3) allowed one run in six innings, with four hits, two walks and six strikeouts. Todd Doolittle (5) pitched one and one thirds perfect innings to save the game for the second straight night.
The Suns have lost six consecutive games, the first such streak since dropping seven in a row August 18-24, 2006.
As advertised, the two prospect starters battled in the first six innings. Jacksonville's Clayton Kershaw allowed a first inning leadoff single, and then held Carolina hitless until the sixth inning when three consecutive hits Chris Coghlan, Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez plated the first Mudcats run for a 1-0 lead.
Kershaw did work his way out of trouble between the first and second hits. Gaby Sanchez led off the fourth inning by reaching on a ground ball to third base when first baseman Rene Rivera misplayed the throw from Russ Mitchell. Carolina's Lee Mitchell then walked to put two on with no outs. The 20-year-old left-hander then took matters into his own hands by picking off Sanchez from second base for the first out. Kershaw next picked off Mitchell from second base for the second out. The next pitch, Carolina's Kris Harvey watched a breaking ball for a called third strike to end the inning.
On the other side, Carolina starter Ryan Tucker scattered three Jacksonville hits and two walks in six innings while striking out five. The Suns had a runner past second base for the first time in the seventh inning against reliever Jesus Delgado. A Jamie Hoffmann bunt single, Rene Rivera walk an a Shane Justis sacrifice bunt put two in scoring position with one out. The next two batters struck out to end the rally.
The Suns again had baserunners in the eighth inning against Delgado. Ivan DeJesus led off the inning with a walk. Greg Jacobs then smashed a line drive to the right side that was caught by the first baseman who tagged first for a double play. Lucas May and Russ Mitchell then drew two out walks, knocking Delgado out of the game in favor of Carolina closer Todd Doolittle. The right-hander ended the eighth inning with a strikeout and pitched a perfect ninth to save the game.
Carolina's finished scoring in the top of the ninth inning off of Suns reliever Kyle Wilson. Gaby Sanchez led off with a walk and pinch runner Lorenzo Scott stole second base and moved to third on a throwing error. Lee Mitchell then hit a sacrifice fly to score Scott for a 2-0 score.
Edwardo Sierra, Yhency Brazoban and Kyle Wilson all pitched an inning of relief for Jacksonville.
The Suns and Mudcats meet for game three of the series Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. Suns LH Marlon Arias will face Carolina LH Aaron Thompson. Wednesday is the first Businessperson's Special of 2008, when $14 will buy a box seat, hot dog and large beverage of your choice; sponsored by Comcast and WOKV AM 690 and 106.5 FM. Tickets are available through the Suns box office at (904) 358-2846 or by visiting jaxsuns.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.