Cameron Maybin #24 of the San Diego Padres slides under...

Cameron Maybin #24 of the San Diego Padres slides under the tag of Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets as he steals second base in the top of the eighth inning. (Aug. 11, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

It wasn't a mental mistake this time, but fill-in shortstop Ruben Tejada's error hurt the Mets just as much in their 3-2 loss to the Padres at Citi Field Thursday.

With two outs in the eighth inning and the score tied at 2, Tejada took an awkward angle toward Aaron Cunningham's grounder wide of third and tried to scoop it on his forehand. But the ball kicked off the heel of his glove, allowing Cameron Maybin to score the go-ahead run. It was Tejada's third miscue -- two fielding, one baserunning -- in two games.

The 21-year-old infielder failed to slide into home and was tagged out standing up in the fourth inning of Wednesday night's game. He also committed a throwing error in the third inning of Thursday's series finale.

"He took the right route to it," manager Terry Collins said of the eighth-inning play. "But I happen to think you have to backhand that ball. That's just my theory."

Tejada, who is filling in for the injured Jose Reyes, acknowledged he could've played the ball differently and took accountability for his error.

"It's tough," he said, "but you have to make that play."

Tejada's error was the turning point of a game the Mets led for most of the way, thanks to a solid performance from Jonathon Niese (11-9), who allowed seven hits and three runs (two earned) and struck out seven in 72/3 innings.

The Mets built a 2-0 lead on Lucas Duda's two-out, two-run double in the third. The Padres cut the lead in half on Maybin's home run in the sixth and tied it in the seventh on a two-out RBI single by No. 8 hitter Luis Martinez.

Then Tejada's second error of the game put the Padres ahead.

"No one is going to blame Ruben with this loss," David Wright said. "You can't score two runs and expect to win a game. That's too much to expect from the defense."

Wright said the team still has confidence in Tejada to make those plays.

"We've all been there," Wright said. "He's played great defense. Obviously, he had the little throwing mishap earlier in the game, but all in all, when the ball is hit to him, he's very, very good over there and he's going to make those plays. Today it just took a bad hop on him and ate him up."

Despite Tejada's shortcomings on the bases and in the field in the past two games, Collins will stick with him. With Reyes on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, he really has no other choice.

"He's the shortstop. That's why we brought him here," Collins said. "We brought him here because we want him to play shortstop every day until [Reyes] comes back."

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