Jose Quintana was the weak link a month ago, but since then has ascended into the Mets’ most effective starting pitcher.

It’s a metamorphosis that if it continues will either help the team’s playoff aspirations or possibly allow the Mets to receive something in return at the trade deadline for the veteran left-hander if they drop from wild-card contention.

For now the focus is on the playoff race scenario, with Quintana as a valuable component.

Tuesday night he gave the Mets a second straight scoreless performance over seven innings, in a 7-5 victory over the Nationals at Citi Field to begin the team’s final homestand before the All-Star break.

Quintana retired 21 of the 24 batters he faced as his ERA since June 9 fell to 0.89. Quintana’s ERA overall in those five starts has dropped from 5.29 to 3.91. All of those starts have occurred since Francisco Alvarez returned from the injured list as the Mets’ starting catcher.

Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor each homered to lead the Mets’ 11-hit attack.

The Mets moved back to .500 and will have a chance to vault into the black over the next five games, three of which are this weekend against the barely competitive Rockies.

Quintana had a fourth start in his last five in which he lasted at least six innings and allowed one earned run or less.

In Washington last Thursday he pitched seven shutout innings, but the Mets lost 1-0 on Jesse Winker’s home run against Adrian Houser.

Quintana on this night allowed his lone hit in the third, when Luis Garcia Jr. delivered a leadoff single.

The Nationals loaded the bases in the inning — CJ Abrams was hit by a pitch and Lane Thomas walked — but Quintana escaped. In his other six innings, Quintana retired the 18 batters he faced.

Nimmo’s three-run homer — his second blast in as many games — gave the Mets a 4-0 lead in the second inning.

The rally started with two outs.

Jeff McNeil walked and Harrison Bader singled before Lindor’s RBI single brought in the game’s first run.

Nimmo followed with a fly to left that kept carrying for his 15th homer of the season.

Lindor smashed a two-run homer in the sixth that extended the Mets’ lead to 6-0. Bader singled with two outs before Lindor cleared the fence in right-center for his 16th homer of the season.

Adam Ottavino struggled in the eighth and heard boos. The right-hander recorded only one out and allowed two earned runs on two hits with a hit batsman. Dedniel Nunez recorded the final two outs in the inning.

McNeil’s RBI double in the eighth gave the Mets a 7-2 lead. Tyrone Taylor tripled led off the inning.

Reed Garrett continued the bleeding from the bullpen by allowing a two-run homer to Kelbert Ruiz in the ninth.

Edwin Diaz threw a wild pitch in the ninth that brought in the game’s final run.

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