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NYM@WSH: Murphy singles home Reyes for an early lead

Though they traded away two important players in Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets have been playing like a team in contention -- and in so doing have put themselves in contention.

An 8-5 win over the Nationals Friday was the Mets' fifth straight victory. They enter the second of their three-game set with the Nationals 6 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the National League Wild Card race.

"I think we consider ourselves in a race," manager Terry Collins said. "I think that's how you approach coming to the ballpark and getting ready to play, is that you're playing for something. I was coaching on a team one time that was out of it by the middle of July, and I tell you, it was tough to come to the ballpark every day. So at least we know we're fighting for something, and I think it helps."

The Mets entered Friday with a batting average of .271 in the month of July.

"Today we had five guys out for early [batting practice] today in 100-degree weather, because they know they're playing for something," Collins said. "It's fun to be around and see it."

The Nationals, on the other hand, are going in the opposite direction. They have lost six games in a row and eight of their last nine. They have lost their last five series and enter Saturday looking to stave off another series loss.

"It's not hard to get back on track," right fielder Jayson Werth said after the Nationals' loss Thursday. "It's just focus and playing the game the right way."

Mets: Wright's contributions continue
• Since returning from the disabled list on July 22, David Wright has hit in eight straight games and has multiple hits in seven of the eight, including a two-hit effort Friday. He has gone 17-for-37 since returning to the lineup, with three doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs.

• Jose Reyes' next triple will be No. 100 in his career. He looks to be the youngest player to hit 100 triples -- 28 years, 49 days -- since Lou Gehrig, who was 28 years, 45 days.

Nationals: Espinosa in a funk
• Second baseman Danny Espinosa enters Saturday's contest with just one multihit game since July 8.

Worth noting
• The Mets' mark of 33 wins on the road is the highest in the Major Leagues, while the Nationals' .571 home winning percentage ranks fifth in the NL.

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