PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Obscured somewhat by other developments on Tuesday was another performance by Jason Isringhausen that the Mets found quite encouraging. Isringhausen's attempt to renew his big league career is the best story in a camp that is more about hope than it is about anything else. And his one flawed inning in what became a 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Nationals enhanced the story, as well as the chance that the former Mets wunderkind will again be home hunting near Queens.

Isringhausen faced five batters in the seventh inning. The first one hit a home run, and the fourth was hit by a pitch. And the pitcher and those who evaluate Mets pitchers were quite pleased by that they had witnessed. They saw velocity; pitching coach Dan Warthen said the reliever's pitches stayed at about 90 miles per hour. They saw stuff, which hasn't been an issue. And they saw unrestricted movement by the 38-year-old right arm that has been pitching baseballs to professional hitters since 1992.

And if they squinted just a bit in the direction of the nearest horizon, they saw Isringhausen pitching in the seventh innings -- maybe even some eighth innings -- in April, May and beyond.

"We've been real pleased by what he's shown us," Warthen said.

What Isringhausen demonstrated Tuesday was resilience. He pitched for the second successive afternoon, a test for any reliever of his age group.

"I felt better than I did [Monday]," Isringhausen said. And Warthen added, "His velocity was up from [Monday], too."

A homer allowed to Brian Bixler meant little to pitcher or coach. A 2-1 fastball that didn't obey led to the home run that went down the left-field line. The same circumstances two weeks from now would prompt a more obedient breaking ball with better location.

"Spring Training is all about testing yourself," Isringhausen said.

The next test comes Friday, when Warthen has two innings assigned to his sort-of new pitcher.

"And I shouldn't have any problems with that, either," Isringhausen said.