MIAMI -- Tom Koehler continues to make the argument that he has been the Marlins' most consistent starter in the second half. The right-hander was effective once again on Thursday night, but a struggling offense and spotty defense played a factor in Miami's 5-2 loss to the Royals at Marlins Park.
From the first inning, when Kansas City's defense came up big twice, the Marlins were never able to settle into a rhythm. Koehler battled through six innings, but Miami couldn't take advantage of another quality start.
"It was an interesting game," Koehler said. "You've got to give them credit. They capitalized on mistakes we made today. They made a few, and we got the two runs there, and there were some chances that we had. But games like today happen."
The timing wasn't good for the Marlins, as they dropped two of three in the series, and were unable to gain ground on the Cardinals, who lost 10-6 to the Mets. Miami remains 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second National League Wild Card spot.
The tone was set in the first when second baseman Raul Mondesi Jr. robbed Dee Gordon of a single up the middle.
And the sensational play of the night was turned in by center fielder Jarrod Dyson, who took a possible home run away from Christian Yelich.
"That first inning, I thought the play Mondesi made up the middle, it was an incredible play," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Dee can run, and he makes that play. It's almost out of his hand when he catches it.
"Dyson's play in center was incredible, too. Obviously, the game starts like that. But, at that point, you still have a ballgame. But they're a team that plays good D."
Koehler did his part to keep the Marlins in it, giving up four runs (three earned) in six innings. The right-hander struck out six and scattered seven hits.
"I feel like I threw the ball well," Koehler said. "I've got to build off it and keep moving forward."
Since July 21, Koehler is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA over seven starts. In 45 innings, he has allowed just 33 hits, and he has logged 36 strikeouts.
Koehler didn't catch many breaks, either. In the third inning, the Marlins intentionally walked Eric Hosmer to get to Salvador Perez. With two outs, Perez's liner kicked off the chalk in left for a key double.
"They have their reasons for why they make decisions," Koehler said of the walk. "They called for it. You've got to do it. You've got two outs in that one inning. I threw a curveball there, and Perez stuck it down the line. That's baseball."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.