NEW YORK -- Eager to lock up the NL East title after letting it slip away last season, the New York Mets will have to wait a day before beginning their taxing stretch drive.
New York's game against the Atlanta Braves was postponed by rain Friday night and will be made up Saturday as part of a single-admission doubleheader beginning at 3:55 p.m.
Johan Santana (13-7) is scheduled to pitch the opener for the NL East leaders against ex-Met Mike Hampton (2-2). Jonathon Niese gets his second major league start in the nightcap and will face Atlanta left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes (3-10).
New York pushed back Pedro Martinez until Monday night at Washington because it didn't want to be undecided about a starter twice in the four-game series. Missing injured righty John Maine, the Mets haven't announced a starter yet for Wednesday.
Before the rainout, Martinez (5-4) had been slated to get the ball Saturday against the Braves. Instead, he'll pitch on seven days' rest Monday.
"I prefer to pitch when I was supposed to pitch. But given the current situation, I will pitch when it is more convenient to the team. I am a team player," he said. "Makes sense to me. I don't have a problem."
The 21-year-old Niese was roughed up in his debut Sept. 2 at Milwaukee but didn't get a decision. He's one of four left-handers scheduled to start in Saturday's doubleheader.
"How many times do you see that?" Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
The tarp stayed on the field all evening Friday and the game was called after a 90-minute delay.
Now, the Mets are scheduled to play 17 games over the final 16 days of the regular season, without a day off. New York is three games ahead of second-place Philadelphia -- four up in the loss column -- and desperately wants to erase the bitter memories of last September's embarrassing collapse.
The only way to do that is to close out the Phillies this time. The Mets led by seven games with 17 to play last season before finishing 5-12 as Philadelphia rallied to win the division crown.
"The demons that have haunted us for a whole year," manager Jerry Manuel, the bench coach last season, said Friday. "Even if you were not a part of it, you knew about it. It's probably something that gets expressed daily here."
The Mets activated catcher Ramon Castro from the disabled list Friday, but he was not in the starting lineup even though Brian Schneider was scratched with a swollen left knee.
Robinson Cancel was penciled in to start behind the plate and bat eighth.
Castro had been on the DL since Aug. 27 with a strained right quadriceps. He is batting .242 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 128 at-bats.
Schneider was examined by a doctor Friday and said he has some extra fluid and swelling in his bursa sac, atop his left kneecap. He said it's a common issue for catchers and doesn't think it's anything to worry about. He expects to play Saturday.
"It happens every now and then. I just never had it as bad as it is," Schneider said.
He is taking anti-inflammatory medication but did not have his knee drained.
Schneider thinks he first felt his knee barking on Tuesday, though he said it hasn't affected his play. He is hitting .258 with seven home runs and 35 RBI in 302 at-bats.
For the Braves, third baseman Chipper Jones wasn't in the lineup because of a stiff back. He spent much of the afternoon in the trainer's room.
"Not feeling too good right now," he said after the game was called.
The storm that hit New York wreaked havoc with the major league schedule. Philadelphia's home game against Milwaukee also was postponed because of wet weather. To make it up, the Phillies and Brewers scheduled a day-night doubleheader Sunday.
Across town, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays were rained out as well and will play a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees and Mets have each played two games at home on the same day only twice before: Sept. 21, 1982 (Yankees vs. Cleveland, Mets vs. Montreal) and April 13, 1997 (Yankees vs. Oakland and Mets vs. San Francisco).
If the Mets and Phillies need to play a tiebreaker for the division title, it would be held in Philadelphia. ... Needing to make room in the clubhouse for an expanded roster, the Mets moved reliever Carlos Muniz into Billy Wagner's locker. Wagner is out for the rest of the year and probably next season, too, after he had elbow ligament replacement surgery Wednesday. ... Manuel said he probably needs to try to avoid using reliever Aaron Heilman for multiple innings. Heilman, who is 3-8 with a 5.38 ERA and three saves in 73 appearances, has been pitching with tendinitis in his left knee. ... Tickets for Friday night's scheduled game will not be valid Saturday at Shea Stadium. The Mets said they may be exchanged for a game later this season, subject to availability.