On the disabled list since June 23 with a strained left oblique and an unrelated knee issue, right-hander Frank Francisco is likely to be activated Friday. His injury was initially thought to require just a short time away, but he suffered multiple setbacks.
Francisco saved 18 games in 21 chances with a 4.97 ERA, and his fill-in, Bobby Parnell, was 3-for-5.
After take three of four from the Giants, the Mets enter Friday night with wins in four of their last five games after losing 14 of 16. The Padres just lost three of four to the Reds and have dropped five of six overall.
San Diego has seemingly been on the road for most of the season, and Wednesday's 9-4 loss to Cincinnati capped its fourth and final road trip of at least 10 days. Since May 21, the Padres have played just 23 games at PETCO Park -- 19 fewer than they've played on the road.
The Padres head home for six games before leaving for seven, with lefty Clayton Richard on the mound for Friday's opener against New York. Richard is 6-6 with a 3.63 ERA in his last 15 starts since May 16, with San Diego going 7-8 in that time. He's also second on the club in quality starts with 12, one behind Edinson Volquez.
The Padres will have to contend with the knuckleball, with right-hander R.A. Dickey starting for the Mets. Dickey, seeking his Major League-leading 15th victory, threw 7 1/3 shutout innings against the Padres in New York on May 27 in a 2-0 Mets win. He struck out 10 in that game.
"When you don't see it [often], it's different," San Diego manager Bud Black said that day. "You really can't simulate it or prepare for it in BP. He was throwing strikes and getting a lot of called strikes. He kept pumping the strike zone with the knuckleball. It was dancing."
Richard started against the Mets the day before at Citi Field and took a loss after allowing four runs on five hits, two home runs, and three walks in six innings.
Mets: Santana to throw second bullpen
Johan Santana threw his first full bullpen session Thursday since landing on the disabled list last month with a sprained right ankle, and is scheduled to throw another bullpen on Sunday, before returning to the Mets during their homestand next week.
The Mets will settle on a date for Santana's return once they see how he feels following his second bullpen session in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
"I absolutely do not [expect him to have any issues]," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's fine."
Since throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history June 1, Santana has gone 3-5 with a 6.54 ERA.
The Mets also must make a decision regarding when -- or whether -- to use R.A. Dickey on three days' rest, an experiment to which they have all but committed themselves. How the team uses Dickey in August will have a significant impact on Santana and the rest of the rotation.
Padres: First inning proves problematic
The Padres have been outscored, 82-38, in the first inning this season. They didn't let up any opening-frame runs in Thursday's 9-4 loss to Cincinnati, the first game in that four-game series they held the Reds in check in the first.
"I think we're going up against a team that's swinging the bat well," Black said of the Reds. "There's some guys that have done a nice job for them over the last month or so. On the other end of that, we've made some pitches that are not in great spots and they've taken advantage of it."
The Mets' staff entered Thursday having held opponents to one run or fewer 26 times this season, the most in the Majors. The Dodgers were second with 25.