Josh Thole #30 of the New York Mets bats in...

Josh Thole #30 of the New York Mets bats in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. (April 26, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Just as the Mets stayed afloat for two weeks without Chris Young, thanks to the admirable fill-in work of Dillon Gee, his return Tuesday night from the disabled list had little positive effect on their 6-4 victory over the Nationals.

Young failed to make it through five innings and served up three home runs, including two to Wilson Ramos, whose claim to fame is being the backup to Pudge Rodriguez. Though that was unpleasant for Young, it ultimately didn't matter much to the Mets, who got a career-high three RBIs from Josh Thole for their fifth straight victory.

"It was a function of having 15 days off," said Young, who had been on the DL since April 10 with biceps tendinitis. "My arm strength felt good, it was just that my command was an issue. We won the game, so I'm happy."

The Mets (10-13) would like to see improvement from Young, especially after demoting Gee to the bullpen, but they had plenty of other reasons to be pleased. Thole, who was 1-for-16 (.063) on the homestand, smacked a two-run double in the sixth to snap a 3-3 tie and put the Mets in front to stay.

"I felt like I needed it bad," Thole said. "I'm striking out more than I want to and that's the thing I'm battling right now. I was done hitting ground balls back to the pitcher."

Carlos Beltran had an RBI double in the third and David Wright supplied an insurance run with his groundout in the ninth. Even Young chipped in with a sacrifice bunt that looked like a safety squeeze when Ike Davis scored with a heads-up read from third base.

"It was a great baserunning play by him," Young said.

Taylor Buchholz pitched two scoreless innings and Francisco Rodriguez earned his fifth save. Give a big assist to Davis, who not only went 3-for-4 but gloved Wright's wide throw and in one motion tagged Danny Espinosa for the final out.

"It's amazing how things just start turning your way," manager Terry Collins said.

Young allowed four hits in 42/3 innings, including the three homers. But Ryota Igarashi rescued him in the fifth by striking out Jayson Werth to strand two runners and the Mets' bullpen surrendered only one run.

The Mets had Young on a 90-pitch leash in his first start back from the DL and they let him get to 88 before pulling him with two outs in the fifth. Young may be recovered from the biceps tendinitis, but he looked gassed at that point after walking the pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, and Espinosa.

Young's return made the Mets' rotation whole again. But Sandy Alderson's decision to keep Gee on the roster -- and demote D.J. Carrasco instead -- suggests that the general manager wants help on hand in case any of his starters falter.

Obviously, Gee had no complaints about staying in the majors. He does seem a little hesitant about this new role, however. On a starter's five-day routine, Gee has a better idea of how to manage his right shoulder, which has a partial labrum tear.

"I'll have to figure it out," Gee said.

If nothing else, just having Gee around could serve as motivation for the rest of the rotation. Jon Niese smiled Tuesday when asked about a report that had him on the chopping block before Sunday's bounce-back start against Arizona. Niese entered that game with a 5.87 ERA and may have saved himself with a strong seven innings in the Mets' 8-4 win.

Niese said that no one gave him an ultimatum before taking the mound that day -- or afterward. But he also knows nothing is guaranteed. "With a big-market team, if you don't do your job," Niese said, "they'll find somebody who will."