NEW YORK -- Manager Mike Redmond offered the perfect summation to this first-half culminating road trip and quite possibly the season to date.
"We've taken some tough losses, man," he said. "Tough losses."
The latest in what seems like an unceasing series of them came Saturday at Citi Field, where the Marlins lost a pair of two-run leads in a 5-4 defeat. Chris Young and Eric Campbell delivered game-tying- and go-ahead pinch-hits in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, leading the Mets to a series-clinching win.
The Marlins at 44-49 are a season-worst five games below .500.
"That was one we have to be able to lock down," Redmond said. "We've had some struggles holding down leads late in the game. ... They got two big hits off the bench and we weren't able to match the big hits."
Neither starter factored into the decision, though Tom Koehler departed in position to win while Daisuke Matsuzaka left on the hook for the loss. Young eliminated both from the equation when he ambushed Bryan Morris.
Summoned with one on and one out in relief of Koehler, Morris served up a game-tying, two-run homer to Young. That snapped a run of 21 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run for Morris, who entered the game with a 2.00 ERA in 45 innings between the Pirates and Marlins. He had not allowed a homer since Hanley Ramirez took him deep on May 31 in what would be his last outing before the trade.
"The pen has been great all year," Koehler said. "You throw that same pitch nine more times, who knows what happens? It's just one of those days where they happen to beat some pretty good arms."
The following inning, Mike Dunn entered and gave up a two-out double to Travis d'Arnaud and RBI-single to Campbell. Dunn fell behind 2-0 and ultimately watched Campbell smack a full-count slider into center.
Marlins relievers in 15 games since June 26 have been charged with seven blown saves.
The Marlins made the most of their four hits off Matsuzaka, scoring four runs. One of those came on Christian Yelich's two-out, fifth-inning homer. All four went for extra bases, including RBI-doubles from Garrett Jones and Marcell Ozuna in the sixth that gave the Marlins' their second two-run cushion of the contest.
The Mets did not tally their first hit off Koehler until d'Arnaud opened the fifth with a single. That ignited a game-tying, two-run rally that featured a Kirk Nieuwenhuis double that Yelich couldn't run down and a Ruben Tejada suicide squeeze.
Koehler in the sixth and seventh innings struggled with fastball command. Eleven of the last 18 fastballs he threw were out of the zone. The last of those was on the 96th and final pitch of his outing and put eight-hole hitter Tejada on first. The nine-pitch Tejada plate appearance culminated with Koehler's fourth walk, which immediately preceded Young's blast.
"Can't happen," said Koehler, of the Tejada walk. "You have to give yourself a chance to get an out there. That led to me having to be taken out of the game. ... I felt good, but certain situations in the game, no matter how good you're doing, you have to be able to overcome them.
"We all know we're a better team than the level we're playing at right now," Koehler said. "Whether it be that big play, big pitch or big hit, we're just not making it right now."
(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services