(Daniel Shirey/GETTY IMAGES)

Johnson wanted to rest Werth, in part, to make the Nationals as close to full strength as they could be for their weekend series at home against the Braves. Their September collapse has left the Braves, as of this posting, only 1 ½ games ahead of the surging St. Louis Cardinals.

“It’s going to be an important series this weekend against the Braves,” Johnson said. “Who’d have thought they’d be in a fight for their lives? They’re in for a dogfight. We’re going to make it as tough on them as we can.”

While Werth wanted to play tonight, he concurred with Johnson about the importance of beating the wild card-racing Braves. “That’s our World Series,” Werth said. “That’s as big as it gets for us” now.

As if the Braves don’t have enough problems, they will show up at Nationals Park on Friday and have to face Stephen Strasburg. Following Strasburg, Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler will make their final starts of 2011.

“I do want to be at full strength going against Atlanta,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to change much about the way I’m going.”

Oh, and about Werth, he still feels “pretty banged up.” It hurt for him to even shake a reporter’s hand in the clubhouse. Still, “I could have played today,” he said. “There’s still an obligation to play. I don’t make out the lineup. The decision is not mine. I’m stilly pretty banged up.”