NEW YORK -- Even the home run apple wasn't prepared for the Mets' sudden power surge.
The apple didn't fail to pop up because it's had little practice at spacious Citi Field -- the Mets have hit just 28 homers there this season. Rather, Fernando Tatis' shot came too quickly after Brian Schneider's for the apple to do its job: show itself after every Mets homer.
New York went 80 innings overall without a home run until Schneider and Tatis connected in the eighth inning of the Mets' 9-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
So, as the cherished home run apple took the 2½ minutes it needs to reset after Schneider's home run, the 40,014 fans who've had little to cheer for the past two months chanted "Apple! Apple!" until the end of the inning. Then the gleaming new apple -- Shea Stadium's is now on display near an entrance -- finally popped out of its center-field hole.
"It was good to see the apple finally come up," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said after New York's second win in a row. "It took its time, but it finally came up."
Even better for Manuel was seeing a rare, robust Mets offense.
"It's good. It'll give us a little momentum, and I think a little more importantly some confidence going into the second half," David Wright said. "I'm excited the way we swung the bats. Got some big hits, took some walks. Got some big RBI."
Gary Sheffield had three RBI and Daniel Murphy drove in two runs to spark the Mets, who had their best offensive output at home since June 24, when they scored 11 against St. Louis.
Luis Castillo had three hits and scored three runs, Wright hit a long RBI double and Jeff Francoeur had two hits in his second game with New York. The Mets amassed 16 hits in improving to 8-12 since Carlos Beltran went on the DL June 22.
The Mets needed the offense after the bullpen nearly wasted a 9-3 lead. Francisco Rodriguez gave up a run in the ninth but finished for his 23rd save.
"I thought the guys made an effort, they kept coming back. They didn't quit," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said.
New York scored more than five runs in a game for only the fourth time since Beltran went out. The outburst came on a day the club received a good injury report for the first time in a couple months: Carlos Delgado (hip) and Jose Reyes (right leg) had encouraging workouts.
High expectations for a playoff run wrecked by injuries, the Mets head into the All-Star break 42-45, 6½ games back of Philadelphia in the NL East. The Reds, who added Jay Bruce to their injury list Saturday with a broken wrist, are also 42-45.
After Wright had an RBI double to center in the first, New York batted around in the third, helping extend Aaron Harang's winless skid to nine starts dating to May 25.
Sheffield had a two-run single, Murphy an RBI double and Alex Cora a run-scoring hit to make it 5-0. The last time the Mets scored at least four runs in an inning was July 2 at Pittsburgh.
Harang (5-9) left after three innings, having surrendered five runs and eight hits.
"I'm going to take these few days and regroup," Harang said. "I didn't have my location. I was missing spots, having to come back and having to throw strikes and they were up there swinging. They hit a few bloops, too. It just didn't work out."
Pelfrey (7-4) rebounded from his start July 7 against the Dodgers in which he yielded five runs in three innings by shutting down the poor-hitting Reds. He gave up two singles in the first, then retired 10 in a row before walking the first two batters of the fifth.
After walking Ramon Hernandez leading off, Pelfrey committed his sixth balk, becoming the first pitcher with six balks in season since Chris Michalak for Toronto and Texas in 2001, according to STATS LLC.
He gave up an RBI double to Adam Rosales, who was called up from Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, and RBI singles to Chris Dickerson and Willy Taveras to make it 7-3. But his manager left Pelfrey in to work through the jam, and he rewarded Manuel with two scoreless innings.
"I think that was huge. As a pitcher you want to be left out there to work out of some tough situations, and he showed the faith in me to be able to do that," Pelfrey said.
The Mets had been last in majors with 26 homers at home. With two today, they moved one ahead of Pittsburgh. ... The Reds' Joey Votto was ejected in the fourth inning after being called out on strikes for the second time. ... The Mets optioned INF Argenis Reyes to Triple-A Buffalo after the game. ... Reds RF Dickerson left after the fifth inning with back spasms. ... The last time the Mets had gone at least 80 innings without a homer was April 15-25, 2002. ... The last team to go at least 80 innings without a home run was the San Francisco Giants, last year. They went 116 consecutive innings without a home run between July 22 and August 5, according to STATS LLC.