- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Heath Bell spun around and pumped his fist after the final out, finishing off four hitless innings by the proud Padres bullpen.

Redemption.

“It was just nice to go out there and go 1-2-3,” Bell said. “It was more just for the whole bullpen. Like, there we go, we’re back on track.”

Cameron Maybin homered and stole two bases before scoring the tiebreaking run on an error by substitute shortstop Ruben Tejada, rallying San Diego past the New York Mets 3-2 on Thursday for a split of their four-game series.


Bell pitched a perfect ninth and the last-place Padres improved to 5-2 on a 10-game road trip that takes them to Cincinnati this weekend.

“We’re doing awesome,” Bell said. “The bullpen, if we hadn’t made mistakes on Monday and Tuesday we wouldn’t have lost on this road trip yet. So we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

Lucas Duda hit a two-run double for the Mets, who managed only three hits and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. New York finished 3-6 on a disappointing homestand and has lost eight of 11 overall.

With the Mets short on rested relievers, Jonathon Niese (11-9) matched his career high with 122 pitches. He outlasted Cory Luebke in a matchup of young left-handers from Ohio, but couldn’t hold an early 2-0 lead.

The score was tied in the eighth when Maybin hit a leadoff single and stole second on a pickoff throw to first. Duda’s toss was a bit late to Tejada, subbing for injured Jose Reyes, and the Mets didn’t get the call on a close play when Tejada tagged Maybin’s shoulder.

“I was just telling myself, I’ve got to make something happen,” Maybin said. “I got a good enough jump and was blessed with good enough speed to get in there.”

Niese, who pitched a one-hitter against San Diego at Citi Field last year for his only major league shutout, put his hands on his head, knowing he had a tough chore ahead.

After the game, Maybin said he was safe. Tejada thought he got him.

“That’s the name of the game, man. Sometimes you’ve got to try to force the issue a little bit and I was able to do so and it worked out,” Maybin said.

One out later, Jesus Guzman was intentionally walked and the runners pulled off a double steal as Kyle Blanks struck out. Aaron Cunningham hit a grounder wide of third and Tejada charged in, trying to scoop it on his forehand. But the ball kicked off the heel of his glove, allowing Maybin to score.

“You have to make that play,” Tejada said.

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