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For a third-place team, the New York Mets are certainly making their mark on the National League.

Frank Viola became the NL's first 11-game winner Wednesday night, pitching the Mets to a 5-2 victory in St. Louis. Darryl Strawberry extended his hitting streak to 16, second highest in the league this year. New York ran its winning streak to nine games, matching the NL high for 1990 and standing two short of the club record.The Mets might not be third in the NL East for long. They are a half-game behind second-place Montreal and within two of first-place Pittsburgh. The Pirates, however, have held ground with a four-game winning streak of their own.

The Mets have won 16 of their last 18 and and are 19-7 since Bud Harrelson replaced Davey Johnson as manager.

"I don't have anything bad to say about Davey," Viola said. "But it seems this team is pulling together a little more than when Davey was managing."

Viola, 11-3, scattered four hits while walking four batters and striking out two. He retired 12 of 13 batters he faced between the second and sixth innings and pitched his fourth complete game.