WASHINGTON -- Carlos Beltran didn't take very long to get comfortable at the plate after a trip to the disabled list.
The switch-hitting center fielder is batting .294 (10-for-34) with five homers and 13 RBI in nine games since he came off the 15-day DL Aug. 10 after missing time with a strained oblique muscle.
"It is about feeling good," Beltran said. "I am seeing the ball, and I feel balanced, and I am staying back."
Beltran homered with one out in the sixth to tie it at 2. He hit a two-run drive off Chris Schroder in the ninth for his 24th of the season. It was his fourth multihomer game of the season and the 21st of his career.
"He is in a nice rhythm," New York manager Willie Randolph said. "I don't know if he is hot, hot."
Orlando Hernandez allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings for the Mets, who have won four straight overall. El Duque has won four straight decisions and hasn't lost since July 4.
"I was very excited about getting the 'W' today," Hernandez said. "I thought my team had good defense and good offense."
"I left everything up today," Rauch said. "It didn't matter where the pitch was."
Washington wasted another fine effort by Shawn Hill, who was making just his second start after missing more than three months with a sore right elbow. He allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings, but didn't think highly of his performance.
"It was a lot of luck -- balls hit at guys," Hill said. "I was all over the place early on."
Hernandez did not allow a hit after Wily Mo Pena went deep in the fourth for his first home run since joining the Nationals on Saturday. New York has won each of El Duque's last eight starts.
It was the second loss in five days for Rauch, who leads the major leagues in appearances with 68.
"During this homestand, I didn't do my part. I cost us two ballgames," Rauch said.
The 6-11 right-hander denied being tired.
"If I wanted a day off, I'd ask for one -- plain and simple. Next question," he said.
"We just got outplayed by a better team," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "There's no luck involved in this. That's why they won the division last year. That's why they're in first place right now."
- The Mets placed infielder Damion Easley on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left ankle and recalled infielder Anderson Hernandez from Triple-A New Orleans.
- New York first baseman Carlos Delgado missed his fourth straight game with a hyperextended left knee.
- Austin Kearns started in center field for Washington -- the first time this season he's played there.
- Pena was acquired with cash considerations from Boston on Friday for a player to be named. He went 1-for-4 with a walk and scored two runs in his Nationals debut Saturday.