All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond is expected to return when the National League East-leading Washington Nationals open up a three-game set with the New York Mets in the nation's capital.
The Nats, who are kicking off a six-game homestand tonight which includes three tests against second-place Atlanta after this series, is coming off another successful road trip, capping an 8-2 trek with a 6-4 win over San Francisco on Wednesday.
Jayson Werth drove in three runs in that one to back Stephen Strasburg as the Nationals took the rubber match in a three-game series versus the Giants.
Steve Lombardozzi collected four hits, including two doubles, and Danny Espinosa clubbed a two-run homer for the Nationals, who lead the Braves by four games in the East.
Strasburg (14-5) limited the Giants to two runs on four hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out seven.
"We need to finish strong and we need to keep playing hard," said Strasburg, who might be nearly finished for the season with an innings limit on the horizon. "We can't focus on the finish line when we have 40-something games left."
Desmond, who has been out since July 21 with a torn left oblique muscle, is expected to be activated off the disabled list before Friday's contest. The Florida native was red-hot before his injury, batting .388 with six homers and 17 RBI in his prior 19 games.
"We haven't really all been together, and we're still missing (catcher) Willy Ramos," manager Davey Johnson told the Nationals' website. "Getting Desi back, that'll be great."
The Mets, meanwhile, come in having lost seven of 10 overall but did manage to salvage the finale of a three-game series against the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
Rookie Matt Harvey pitched 7 2/3 stellar innings and added a two-run double, as New York avoided the sweep with an 8-4 win.
Harvey (2-3), who made his major league debut on July 26, took a perfect game into the fifth. In all, the 23-year-old righty was charged with one run on four hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. He now has 34 Ks in five career starts.
"I knew it was going to be a tough lineup. I just wanted to go out and not so much worry about who I was facing, as much as where the call was, where the pitch was supposed to go and try and execute as best I could," said Harvey.
Ike Davis homered and drove in a pair while Jason Bay hit a solo shot for the Mets, who scored just one run over the first two games of the series.
Veteran Johan Santana will try to follow up Harvey's stellar performance on Friday against the Nats. The former two-time Cy Young Award winner missed almost a month with a sprained right ankle and struggled in his return last Saturday, allowing a season-high eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings. In his career, Santana is 6-3 with a stellar 2.91 ERA in 10 starts versus Washington.
Fellow lefty Ross Detwiler will take the ball for Washington. Detwiler has not allowed a run over 12 innings in two starts against the Mets this season. An illness, however, hampered Detwiler in his last start when he gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings in a 7-4 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
The Nationals are 9-3 against New York so far this season.