After missing 18 games with a strained oblique, Carlos Beltran returned to the Mets lineup in a big way this past week.

Beltran was 9-for-24 with four homers and 10 RBIs in six games against the Pirates and Nationals, and on Monday he was rewarded by being named the National League Player of the Week.

The center fielder returned to the Mets lineup on Aug. 10 after being activated from the DL and got off to a slow start, going 1-for-10 before eventually turning it on this week.

"It is about feeling good," Beltran told reporters after Sunday's game. "I am seeing the ball, and I feel balanced, and I am staying back."

Beltran capped off the impressive stretch in his final game of the week. In the series finale against the Nationals, with his club going for a sweep, Beltran came through and was 2-for-3 with two homers and four RBIs, leading the Mets to an 8-2 win.

"When he gets hot, he gets ridiculously hot," teammate David Wright said after Sunday's game. "He has the ability to put the team on his shoulders."

With Sunday's win, the Mets capped off a week in which they went 5-1 and stretched their lead in the NL East to five games over the Phillies, with both teams idle on Monday.

Beltran's surge came after he and Wright flip-flopped spots in the batting order, with Beltran batting fourth to protect Wright, who moved up to the three spot. Mets manager Willie Randolph made the move once Beltran was activated from the DL, with Wright swinging a hot stick himself.

Beltran flourished in the cleanup spot this past week, collecting at least one RBI in four of the six games.

"You're only cleanup one time around," Beltran said. "After that, you might be leading off or hitting second. It's about feeling good. When you feel good and you're making good contact, things are going to happen. And right now, I'm feeling good."

It's the second time this season that Beltran has taken home the award. He also did it for the week of April 16-22. During that stretch, Beltran recorded four multi-hit games and two four-hit games. This time around, the 30-year-old had three multi-hit games and also scored eight runs.

"He's been taking good batting practice with [hitting coach Howard Johnson] like he always does, and we need to sustain that and keep that going," Randolph said after Sunday's game. "Carlos is an excellent hitter, and right now we just need to keep him focused."

Beltran beat out two of his own teammates, Wright (.423, 5 RBI) and left fielder Moises Alou (.348, 2 HR, 7 RBI) along with Arizona's Chris Young (.393, 5 HR) and Orlando Hudson (.417, 4 RBI); the Reds' Adam Dunn (.350, 4 HR), Ken Griffey Jr. ( .417 5 RBI) and Jeff Keppinger (.435, 2 RBI); Albert Pujols (.476, 3 HR) and Yadier Molina (.389 6 RBI) of the Cardinals; San Diego's Greg Maddux (2-0, 0.77 ERA) and San Francisco's Ryan Klesko (.438, 7 RBI) among others to earn the award.