NEW YORK -- For Johan Santana, it was an easy decision.
Pitching coach "Dan [Warthen] came to me and asked me and I told him, 'I'll throw, I'll pitch in the first game,' Santana said. "I feel good just going out there and getting the first game."
The way the Mets are playing at home, who could blame their ace.
New York's chance at a 10th straight home win Wednesday night was postponed by rain, and the Mets and San Diego Padres will play a day-night doubleheader Thursday to wrap up their three-game series.
Santana was scheduled to face 22-year-old Mat Latos on Wednesday and the pair will matchup for the opener Thursday at 1:10 p.m. Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese will face Padres right-hander Jon Garland at 7:10 p.m.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner is just 4-2 this season, with all his victories coming at Citi Field. Santana pitched seven scoreless innings June 2 in San Diego but the Mets lost in 11 innings. In fact, Santana has received minimal run support this season (3.05 runs per game).
"We're playing good. As long as we win that's all that matters," he said. "At some point everything will turn around. I just got to keep doing my job and give my team a chance to win."
In his past five starts, Santana has not given up more than two runs but has just one win. Manager Jerry Manuel attributes the paltry offensive backing to Santana's spot atop the rotation.
"Part of the reason is that No. 1s usually face No. 1s," Manuel said. "I think he's got Josh Johnson a couple of times. I think he's got CC Sabathia."
Latos might not be a No. 1, but he's been pretty stingy, too.
In his first full season in the rotation, Latos went all of May without giving up more than two runs. He allowed three runs in his start Friday at Philadelphia and has a 3.26 ERA this season.
Unlike Santana, who played catch and tossed a bit off a mound to "make sure everything was all set," Latos did not do anything physical before the game was called about two hours before the scheduled first pitch.
Manager Bud Black said he wasn't worried that Latos will have any problem mentally preparing again for a Mets lineup that has won four straight.
Nor was he too concerned with the overnight flight home to California early Friday instead of an easier trip after a day game.
"It beats the alternative of having to fly back here for one game at some point during the season," Black said.
Adrian Gonzalez knows what he'll be doing on the cross-country trip.
"I'll sleep," he said.
Manuel said RHP John Maine (shoulder weakness) felt the normal soreness a day after he threw 30 pitches in a simulated game in the bullpen and is scheduled to make a rehab start Sunday for Double-A Binghamton at Trenton. ... RHP Tim Stauffer (appendicitis) threw 48 pitches Tuesday in a rehab game and came out OK, Black said. He said the team is hoping to get him back up to the 60-80 pitch range. ... The Mets drafted John Franco, the son of former closer John Franco in the 42nd round, as a SS from Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, N.Y.