-- Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro returned to the starting lineup for the first time in two weeks Friday night against the San Diego Padres with the hope that his inflamed right knee remains strong enough that he can be a positive factor as Washington makes a final push for the playoffs.

"Right now, I feel like I'm capable of playing every day," Vidro said prior to the game. "We'll see what happens after tonight."

Vidro aggravated the knee Sept. 1 in Atlanta, and had just one pinch-hit appearance since. But he ran hard to test the knee during the team's series in New York, and repeatedly told Manager Frank Robinson he was ready to return.

Robinson, as is his nature, is cautious about Vidro. He said he likely won't play Vidro every day the rest of the way, but there's still a chance the three-time all-star could help the Nationals, the worst offensive team in baseball.

"If he's anywhere near what he's capable of doing with the bat he can help the team," Robinson said.

In 77 games prior to Friday, Vidro -- who missed two months with a torn ankle tendon -- hadn't been himself offensively, hitting just .270 with seven homers and 31 RBI. He is a career .302 hitter.

"It's been a very frustrating year for me, because I want to be out there," Vidro said.

High Praise for Lowly Catcher

After Thursday's 6-5 victory over the New York Mets, Robinson went out of his way to praise the catching job done by third-stringer Keith Osik, called up Sept. 5 from Class AAA New Orleans. Robinson said Osik's ability to get relievers Jason Bergmann and Gary Majewski to throw breaking pitches when hitters expected fastballs was a factor in their success.

"That's part of a catcher's job," Osik said. . . .

The official scorer at Shea Stadium changed a ruling on Ryan Zimmerman's hit in the ninth inning of Thursday's game, taking away an error on Mets right fielder Gerald Williams and giving Zimmerman a double rather than a single. The change means the tying run, which scored against Mets closer Braden Looper, is earned.