NEW YORK -- Tom Koehler had the distinction as the Marlins' most consistent starting pitcher before Sunday.
Even Jose Fernandez had a clunker of an outing this month at Philadelphia.
Koehler, who played for New Rochelle (N.Y.) High School and Stony Brook, picked an unfortunate occasion to revert to former scatter-armed tendencies in an off-kilter homecoming performance at Citi Field.
With a chance to clinch a series win and gain a split of a six-game trip to Atlanta and New York for the Marlins, he couldn't zero in on the strike zone in a 4-0 loss to the Mets.
Koehler dug a four-run hole in five tedious innings on 109 pitches, only 62 for strikes. A two-run home run by Chris Young sealed his fate in a three-run fifth. He walked four and hit a batter along with allowing four hits.
"I was walking a tightrope most of the day and just happened to fall off there and (failed to) make the one pitch to get the team back in the dugout," Koehler said.
Unlike Saturday, when the Marlins rallied from a four-run deficit, they never gained traction against Mets starter Dillon Gee.
Winless in his previous seven starts at Citi Field, Gee (2-1) didn't allow a runner past second base while holding the Marlins to three singles and four walks in eight shutout innings.
"He was just going right after us with his two-seamer (fastball) because it was moving so much. It was tough to square up," said Garrett Jones, who had one of the Marlins' three hits. "I don't know if it was the breeze, but it was moving a lot and he was throwing it where he wanted to and very effective."
It was the second time the Marlins have been shut out this season (5-0, April 8 at Washington). They were blanked a major league-high 18 times last season.
The Marlins concluded a 2-4 trip that left them 2-10 on the road and 3-12 against the National League East.
Koehler (2-2) pitched like Gee in his previous visit to Citi Field, shutting out the Mets on three hits for eight innings on Sept. 15. That began a stretch of seven consecutive starts allowing two or fewer runs, and he completed at least six innings in all but one of them.
Koehler, who had produced four quality starts to begin this season, needed 47 pitches to get through the first two innings Sunday. Only 23 were strikes.
In a laborious 34-pitch second, he walked Daniel Murphy, hit Young and gave up a run-scoring double to Lucas Duda.
Koehler avoided further damage in the inning but didn't make it easy on himself by walking counterpart Gee to load the bases.
"You get through an inning like that and the mindset is, 'OK, now it's time to get back on track and let's go put some zeroes on the board.' They were ugly zeroes," said Koehler, who never could find his rhythm. "Just really tough to execute pitches."
Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria bailed him out in the fourth, ranging behind second to snare Eric Young Jr.'s hard bouncer, stranding runners on second and third.
Allowing leadoff walks in three of five innings was ultimately too much to overcome. Curtis Granderson walked to open the fifth and scored on David Wright's double off the wall in left.
Chris Young battled him through an 11-pitch at-bat before hitting a misplaced slider into the seats in left.
"He gave us everything he had ... even though it was a grind for him to get through five innings," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "But we only mustered up three hits. It's tough to win a game with only three hits."
The lone positive for the Marlins was the debut of Carter Capps, who pitched two hitless innings of relief, striking out three. Capps, acquired in the offseason trade for Logan Morrison, was registering 97 to 99 mph on the radar gun with his fastball.
The Marlins did avoid double-digit strikeouts after reaching that ignominious mark in the previous five games. But they struck out 71 times on the trip.
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