Washington's grueling stretch -- 35 games in 34 days -- resulted in a 24-11 record for the National League East-leading club, including an 8-2 mark on its just-completed 10-game road trip.
But a day off was welcomed, and the Nationals won't only return to the diamond Friday against New York well-rested, but also pretty close to whole.
All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond was activated from the DL on Friday after missing about a month because of a strained oblique. With Desmond coming back and right fielder Jayson Werth's recent return, the Nationals should finally have their expected starting lineup, sans Opening Day catcher Wilson Ramos (injured knee). Manager Davey Johnson is excited for that prospect, and he said he'll immediately pencil Desmond into his lineup.
"It's going to be fun. We haven't really all been together, and we're still missing Willy Ramos," Johnson said. "Getting Desi back, that'll be great. I think it'll be about a month. You've got to tip your hat to [Danny] Espinosa and [Steve] Lombardozzi for the job they've done."
While a near full-strength lineup is welcome for the Nationals, it likely won't be for Mets left-hander Johan Santana, who will makes his second start since coming off the disabled list. Santana and the Mets were hoping the DL stint would help the left-hander bounce back from his previous three starts, during which he posted a 13.50 ERA and .452 average against.
It didn't, as Santana only recorded four outs in his return against the Braves, allowing eight runs on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings.
"It was just a night where it was tough for him, because he was throwing strikes and using his pitches, but he just wasn't throwing them where he wanted to," Mets manager Terry Collins said after Santana's latest start. "He said his command was off, so we'll move forward. At least he feels good. He said he feels OK, and that's a bright side, if there is one."
Mets: Road warrior
Infielder Ruben Tejada is riding a 15-game road hitting streak. He's also recorded at least one hit in 19 of his last 20 road games, with 10 multihit efforts in that stretch.
Third baseman David Wright is one home run shy of becoming the third player in franchise history to hit 200 homers. Darryl Strawberry (252) and Mike Piazza (220) are the others.
Reliever Jon Rauch has allowed just one run in his past 20 appearances, good for a 0.64 ERA.
Nationals: Detwiler looks to rebound
Left-hander Ross Detwiler, Friday's starter for Washington, looks to bounce back from his last outing, during which he pitched under the weather. Detwiler allowed five runs (four earned) in 4 2/3 innings against the D-backs while suffering from a sinus issue.
"I was just trying to battle through it," Detwiler said. "I could tell early I wasn't getting my pitches down, and I was kind of fighting against myself all day."
Detwiler was 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in his previous five starts.
Outfielder Michael Morse is hitting .320 with five doubles, three homers and eight RBIs during his 12-game hitting streak.
With Wednesday's 6-4 win over the Giants, the Nationals now are 5-2 in rubber games this season.