The process of piecing this Washington Nationals season back together may have begun in earnest here Thursday afternoon. Left-hander Ross Detwiler started a game for the first time in 28 days, a nagging muscle strain in his side finally behind him. Stephen Strasburg’s return is just days away, meaning the formidable rotation that was the basis for so much hope this season will be reconstituted.

In a 5-4 win that gave the Nationals two victories in this three-game series against the Colorado Rockies, Detwiler surrendered three runs over five innings. But, for a change, the Nationals offense rescued their pitching staff and scored three runs after the sixth inning, overcoming a 3-2 deficit. Ian Desmond continued his torrid hitting with four hits and Ryan Zimmerman delivered three RBI.

The Nationals (33-32) moved back above .500, for the first time since May 29. The Nationals have tread water for 10 weeks, but after two straight wins they are only 51 / 2 games behind the idle Atlanta Braves in the NL East. A week ago, the Nationals sat a season-high eight games back.

“I saw ‘em lose a tough one yesterday and the day before, and the day before,” Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said sitting in the visiting manager’s office before Thursday’s game. “It’s not scoreboard watching yet, but it’s always fun. I don’t worry about them. We haven’t got to running on all cylinders yet. And we won’t until we get [Bryce Harper] back. So hopefully that’ll be sometime soon.”

Other than a Zimmerman two-run home run in the third inning, the Nationals’ offense looked meager against left-handed starter Jeff Francis. Detwiler surrendered two runs in the fourth inning and gave the Rockies a 3-2 lead. But in the top of the seventh, the Nationals took the lead in curious fashion. And, unsurprisingly, Desmond was at the heart of the action on the basepaths.