CHICAGO -- Finally, the New York Mets showed some spark at the plate.
Ruben Tejada hit his first major league homer and drove in five runs, Ike Davis also connected and the Mets erupted for 21 hits and pounded the Chicago Cubs 18-5 Sunday to avoid a weekend sweep.
The Mets' bats perked up for season highs in runs and hits even though David Wright got a day off and Jose Reyes was still nursing a strained right oblique. They scored five runs in the fifth, eighth and ninth innings while winning for just the second time in seven games.
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It quite a change for a team that was batting just .228 since July 1, and giving them a big boost was a rookie who had never driven in more than a run -- Tejada.
"He's the type of guy who's always in the middle of things and he showed that today," manager Jerry Manuel said.
Tejada had a sacrifice fly in the second, a two-run single in the fifth, a homer leading off the seventh and bases-loaded walk in the ninth.
The home run in the seventh hit the basket and initially was ruled a triple. He was standing on third when the call got changed, and at that point, Tejada had two words for the umpire: "Thank you."
Davis had four hits and drove in three runs while scoring three. He drove a two-run shot in the eighth for his 17th homer and second in as many games.
Jonathon Niese (9-7) delivered a pair of RBI singles and more than made up for his struggles on the mound. He went six-plus innings, giving up five runs after allowing a combined 15 in his previous two starts, but helped himself with a big day at the plate.
A .133 hitter entering the game, he chased Ryan Dempster (12-10) with an RBI single that capped a five-run fifth and turned a 4-2 deficit into a 7-4 lead.
"Obviously it doesn't look good on paper but I'm just thankful our offense did a great job today," Niese said.
Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer for Chicago and drove in three runs before leaving with a strained right quad before the top of the ninth. He's day to day.
Geovany Soto homered, but the Cubs lost for the fourth time in 12 games under interim manager Mike Quade.
Touched for seven runs in a season-low three innings against Pittsburgh last week, Dempster was no better this time. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings and allowed nine hits and seven runs, three of them earned.
"My velocity's good," Dempster said. "My confidence is good. I'm just not putting guys away when I get ahead of them - and that's a rare occasion right now."
The Cubs were leading 4-2 heading into the fifth when Angel Pagan led off by reaching on a two-base error, when Tyler Colvin dropped his liner to deep right after a long run, and the Mets wound up sending up 10 batters.
"I caught the ball," Colvin said. "I was still running full speed and trying to take it out and just spin around, throw it in. But obviously, I can't do that when I have my back turned like that. No one can see what's going on. They don't know if it was bobbled the whole way or what. Lesson learned."
Luis Hernandez, Carlos Beltran and Davis followed with singles as the Mets tied it at 4. After Mike Hessman walked to load the bases, Dempster struck out Lucas Duda and Josh Thole, but the Mets weren't finished.
Tejada hit a two-run single and Niese, who had singled in a run in the second, chased Dempster with another RBI base hit.
"I felt that once we unplugged with the bases loaded, eventually some things would flow for us," Manuel said. "Hopefully this is the beginning of that type of thing for us. We are due to have these types of games because we have put ourselves in these positions and haven't cashed in."
Mets ace Johan Santana was scratched from Tuesday's start against Washington because of a strained left pectoral muscle. ... The Cubs' Carlos Silva said doctors told him he should "feel like a new guy" when he starts Tuesday against Houston. Silva, 10-5 with a 3.92 ERA, has not pitched since Aug. 1 because of a heart problem.