MIAMI - Terry Collins, talking to the media Thursday after the Mets' 3-0 loss to the Miami Marlins, seemed to offer Matt Harvey an easy excuse.
But Harvey wasn't taking it.
He was dominant for the first five innings at Marlins Park -- eight strikeouts, no walks and only one hit, by the opposing pitcher.
But the Marlins, who are last in the majors in runs scored and last in the National League in winning percentage, scratched out three runs in a sixth inning that Harvey did not survive.
Harvey (8-3) has faced the Marlins four times this season and is 0-1 with three no-decisions. Of his 22 starts this season, the only times he has failed to make it through at least six innings were the three games at Marlins Park.
Harvey's ERA against the Marlins this year is 3.52. Against everyone else, it's 1.97.
"They don't strike out," Collins said. "The teams with big swingers, the teams that have a lot of power, a little bit more aggressive -- they swing and miss. This team doesn't swing and miss much. They put the ball in play. They hit the ball to all fields. So they were a little tougher for him."
Harvey wasn't buying that -- and not without justification. He can point to the second inning, when he struck out Ed Lucas on a knee-buckling 86-mph curveball and Donovan Solano on a 97-mph fastball that darted low and inside.
Harvey's fastball reached 98 when he struck out Logan Morrison swinging in the fourth and again when he froze Jake Marisnick in the fifth.
Harvey even struck out the Marlins' best hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, during Miami's sixth-inning rally before things unraveled.
"That wasn't necessarily the case until the sixth inning," Harvey said when told of Collins' statement about the Marlins not striking out much. "I just wasn't able to make my pitches when I needed to. The ball came up and went over the middle quite a bit."
The Marlins' rally started when Juan Pierre pinch hit for starting pitcher Tom Koehler and led off with a single to right. He took third on Christian Yelich's single up the middle.
Harvey then got a lineout to short and the Stanton strikeout before Morrison drove in the first run with a single to right.
After Harvey hit Lucas with a pitch, Solano hit a two-run single to end a nine-pitch at-bat that included six foul balls.
"I couldn't make the pitch to get him out," Harvey said. "When I went in, it wasn't in enough or down. Then I threw him a slider. It was up, and he shot it to rightfield."
Collins said he wants Harvey, who threw 110 pitches, to get quicker outs early.
"It's one of those things that we are trying to get him to understand," he said. "He works so hard, he throws so hard that late in the game sometimes . . . If he gets easy outs early in the game, he would be much better off."