Reyes made the highlight-reel plays, but pitcher Tom Glavine had the night's flashiest numbers, picking up his 301st victory by allowing just one run over seven innings.
With his final pitch of the evening, Glavine struck out Ronnie Belliard for career strikeout No. 2,555, moving him into a tie with Tim Keefe for 27th on the all-time list.
But Glavine felt that his biggest contribution was making it through seven innings. It took 116 pitches, but with an extra day of rest between starts and a worn-out bullpen, he lobbied manager Willie Randolph for the opportunity.
"My biggest goal tonight was to find a way to get to the seventh inning," Glavine said. "I knew coming off the field [after the sixth] I was going to at least tell Willie I wanted to go back out there."
Glavine never got himself in serious trouble, and when the Nationals were threatening, he received a pair of spectacular plays from the defense.
In the fifth inning, Reyes ran down a sharp ground ball in time to flip it to second baseman Luis Castillo, who kept his balance on the base long enough to get the out then fired a rocket to first base in time for an inning-ending double play.
"I get excited about big double plays like that," Randolph said. "Big infield plays are something I really appreciate. That was a great athletic play by Castillo. It was just very fluid and athletic, and he made a great throw."
Reyes said that he didn't think he had thrown the ball well enough to start the double play, but Castillo was able to compensate with his juggling act. The shortstop and second baseman have only worked together for a month, but have proven to be a good pairing.
"It's nice playing together with Castillo, because he knows what he's doing at second base," Reyes said.
In the sixth inning, the defense came from Damion Easley, who was filling in at first for the injured Carlos Delgado.
With runners on second and third, Washington's Nook Logan unleashed a sharp line drive that Easley caught, with the whole play unfolding quickly.
Easley may not be a regular at first base, but he's already learning some tricks, and said that Logan tipped him off to the hit.
"I saw him peeking over at me, so I knew it wasn't a bunt," he said. "I figured he was using me as a target to try to shoot it by me. That still doesn't mean it's going to come my way, but it alerted me that he's going to shoot it by me."
By the time Glavine left the game, the team had a five-run lead, but as the Mets' bullpen has demonstrated in recent weeks, that's no guarantee of victory. Jorge Sosa entered the game in the eighth and promptly gave up a double to Ryan Zimmerman. After Austin Kearns batted him in with an RBI single, Randolph had seen enough.
Pedro Feliciano was called in from the bullpen, and he forced an inning-ending double play against the first batter he faced. Feliciano also pitched a perfect ninth inning.
On offense, the Mets got solo home runs from Moises Alou and Easley, who each took a ball over the left-field fence.
Reyes contributed with his speed, but it was Nationals pitcher Matt Chico who made the mistake of letting him do so. Chico walked Reyes to open the third and fifth innings, and both times Reyes responded by stealing second base.
"That's how I do it," he said. "I just try to get on base then put some pressure on the other team."
By increasing his tally to 62, his march to the Mets' single-season record seems all but inevitable at this point. The record is 66, held by Roger Cedeno.
The excitement helped wash away some of the bad feelings from Thursday's loss to Pittsburgh, where the Mets led by five runs only to drop the series finale. Glavine said that after that performance, Friday's game became a big one.
"We needed it psychologically, because that was a tough loss," he said. "You hate giving away leads like that, particularly when you have an opportunity to sweep the series and the pennant race is so tight."
With Friday's victory and Philadelphia's win over Pittsburgh, the Mets retained their three-game lead over the Phillies in the National League East.
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less