A victory on Saturday could not cover the hurt the New York Mets and Ron Darling have been going through.

The Mets finally showed a sign of life, beating the Chicago Cubs 11-5 to end a five-game losing streak and pick up a game on the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL East.Darling (6-9) won for the first time since Aug. 16, giving up four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings before Wally Whitehurt finished. Darling was bitter after he was dropped from the rotation earlier this month in favor of rookie Julio Valera.

"I haven't had that many opportunities to help the team, and it's nice to have bragging rights for a day," Darling said.

"It's good news because he won, but bad news because there's been a lot of chirping about what's happened in the past," Mets manager Bud Harrelson said.

Both Darling and Bob Ojeda have been critical of management since the start of the season for one reason or another.

"If I was pitching great or Bobby O was pitching great, and let's face it, we've both been struggling, Valera would not have been given those starts," Darling said. "I have a lot of confidence in myself and Bobby, but while it hurt us not to pitch, we both felt badly we weren't helping the team."

Darryl Strawberry hit a two-run homer to set a club RBI record with 106 as New York moved within 2 1/2 games of Pittsburgh, which lost to St. Louis 5-2.

It was just the second victory in nine road games for the Mets, who are 51-27 in Shea Stadium but 33-40 on the road. With the score tied 2-2, New York scored six runs in the fifth inning.

Strawberry's homer, his 36th, gave him one more RBI than the previous Mets record shared by Rusty Staub and Gary Carter.

Daryl Boston had three hits and drove in four runs with an RBI single, a bases-loaded walk and a two-run homer, his 10th.

"I honestly was beginning to worry about our lack of scoring runs, and today, Daryl (Boston) showed how he can turn on a ball, and we got some key hits from Mackey Sasser among others," Harrelson said.

Andre Dawson stole his 300th career base and joined Willie Mays as the only players in major league history with 300 homers, 300 steals and 2,000 hits. Dawson later hit his 25th home run of the season, the 344th of his career to go along with 2,193 hits. Mays had 660 homers, 338 steals and 3,283 hits.

Dawson said he does not belong in the same class with Mays, but added, "it was inevitable that I'd get my 300th stolen base. I guess it will sink in after the season."

Jose Nunez (3-7) gave up eight runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings, the most runs he allowed in a game this season.

Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the first on Mark Grace's RBI groundout and Derrick May's run-scoring single. Boston, 15-for-36 against the Cubs this year, tied the score with his home run in the second.

New York took the lead in the fifth when Boston and Sasser singled, Darling sacrificed, Howard Johnson was intentionally walked and catcher Damon Berryhill missed a pitch for a passed ball.

Dave Magadan's two-run single, Strawberry's homer and Boston's RBI single made it 8-2.

Dawson's sixth-inning homer and Sandberg's seventh-inning RBI single pulled the Cubs to 9-4.

Mitch Williams walked Boston with the bases loaded in the seventh, Magadan hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Kevin McReynolds hit an RBI double in the ninth.