SAN DIEGO -- The ball essentially fluttered off Shawn Green's bat, contact so minute that the ball managed to carry about 30 feet in the air away from home plate at PETCO Park and into foul territory.

Seeing this, Padres' catcher Michael Barrett quickly tossed his facemask and gave chase, as did third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and the player who tossed the pitch, Jake Peavy.

Somehow, Green's foul ball in the sixth inning eluded all three players who looked equal parts dumbstruck and frustrated, which might have been a fitting metaphor for the Padres in their 7-0 loss to the Mets on Tuesday.

Drop the ball? The Padres (51-41) essentially did just that on Tuesday, and not just because the first-place Dodgers -- who remained a game up in the National League West -- were getting trounced at home by the Phillies.

Where the Padres dropped the ball was nearly everywhere else -- in the field (one error, a wild pitch and a passed ball) and at the plate (three hits) and on the mound, where Peavy was unable for the fourth time to win his 10th game and the bullpen was nicked for four runs, three earned.

As far as clunkers go for the Padres -- and, truthfully, there hadn't been many this season -- this one certainly qualified as such.

"It wasn't the type of game we've played most of the season," Padres manager Bud Black said. "They [the Mets] have a good lineup and a good team, but we didn't play as crisp as you have seen us play."

Peavy, exactly a week removed from starting the All-Star Game for the National League, pitched well enough to win, as Black would say following the game, allowing three runs on six hits before leaving.

But Peavy's command wasn't nearly as sharp as it's been this season, especially during the fourth and fifth innings when the Mets scored all three runs off the right-hander.

Peavy (9-4) walked two hitters in the fourth inning when the Mets (52-41) scored what would be the only run they would need.

One inning later, Peavy allowed a leadoff single and then later a stolen base to Orlando Hernandez -- the same Hernandez who tied the San Diego hitters in knots with his arm.

Peavy's right biceps, which caused his start to be pushed back two days, checked out fine after the game. What wasn't quite as fine was the sequence of events in the Mets two-run fifth inning when Hernandez's bat ignited the fitful inning.

After Hernandez singled to center field, he stole second base as the Padres decided not to hold him on first with Jose Reyes at the plate. Not a bad baseball decision by any means -- though the Padres certainly weren't expecting him to run.

"That was surprising," Black said.

Hernandez scored from second base to make it 2-0 on Jose Valentin's single into center field that Hiram Bocachica -- who was filling in for Mike Cameron, who got a rare day off -- bobbled, though Hernandez might have scored anyway.

"He ignites you if you are just kind of laying back," Mets manager Willie Randolph said of Hernandez. "He forces you to play the game. I was not surprised. He has done that a lot. He loves to beat you. If you do not pay attention to him, it's almost insulting to him."

Valentin then advanced to second base when Peavy uncorked a wild pitch. New York then made it 3-0 when Carlos Beltran lined an opposite-field RBI double down the left-field line just out of the outstretched reach of a diving Kevin Kouzmanoff.

"I felt OK. Health-wise, I had no problems," Peavy said. "I know people are probably going to ask about the biceps, but there's none of that. I felt pretty good, just had a couple long innings there in the fourth and fifth and just didn't get it done."

The Mets would go on to score four runs (three earned) over the last two innings when relievers Kevin Cameron and Royce Ring were dinged for runs, one that was unearned after an error by Kouzmanoff.

Truthfully, even had Peavy been as dominant as he was earlier in the season, the Padres might still have been hard-pressed to win the way the allegedly 38-year-old Hernandez (6-4) was throwing.

Hernandez allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings with four strikeouts, giving the Padres plenty of looks at breaking balls of all sorts coming from different angles, which made it tough to get a read on any one particular pitch.

"He's got a funky windup, but ultimately, if we go through the tape, we'll see that he made some pretty good pitches," Padres right fielder Brian Giles said.

"He threw a lot of strikes. He threw all those pitches and I thought, for the most part, he kept it out in the middle of the plate. Anytime you can throw your curveball and fastball and be able to hit corners, it's going to be tough."