NEW YORK -- Don’t stop now!
Fueled by a sudden power surge that included a franchise-record-matching three homers from Kirk Nieuwenhuis on Sunday, the New York Mets entered the All-Star break with a 5-3 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Nieuwenhuis homered twice against starter Rubby De La Rosa, then went deep against Randall Delgado in the fifth. Daniel Murphy homered, too, as the Mets won seven of their final nine games of the first half to enter the break with a 47-42 record.
After recently going nine straight games without a homer, the Mets closed the half with their final 15 runs scoring via the long ball. That includes all 13 runs they produced in their first home sweep of the Diamondbacks since 2011.
The Mets last had a winning record at the All-Star break in 2012 (46-40). They are 32-14 at home this season.
Jeurys Familia, snubbed for the All-Star Game, earned his 27th save in 29 chances.
Nieuwenhuis became the 10th player in franchise history with a three-homer game. He joined Ike Davis (2012), Carlos Beltran (2011), Jose Reyes (2006), Edgardo Alfonzo (1999), Gary Carter (1985), Darryl Strawberry (1985), Claudell Washington (1980), Dave Kingman (1976) and Jim Hickman (1965).
Nieuwenhuis (3-for-4) became the first Met to have a three-homer game at home. He received a curtain call after his fifth-inning shot staked the Mets to a 5-2 lead. He then had his name chanted when he returned to his position in left field the following half-inning.
He had been homerless this season. More remarkably, Nieuwenhuis was 3-for-38 to start the season with the Mets. He then was designated for assignment, got traded to the Los Angeles Angels for cash, got claimed back by the Mets off waivers, then had been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Nieuwenhuis started Sunday’s game in the No. 5 hole with Michael Cuddyer resting his troublesome left knee.
Niesely done: Jonathon Niese surrendered a solo homer to All-Star Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth inning that pulled the D-backs within 4-2, but Arizona never got any closer than two runs the remainder of the game. Niese, who drew the start with rookie Steven Matz landing on the DL with a lat strain, ultimately limited the D-backs to three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Niese (5-8) closed the first half with consecutive wins. He departed after David Peralta’s RBI single in the seventh trimmed the Mets’ lead to 5-3.
El día del Mejia: Five days after being activated from an 80-game PED suspension, Jenrry Mejia finally appeared in a game. Mejia inherited a runner on first base from Niese with two outs in the seventh inning.
Mejia began his return by tossing three straight balls but ultimately retired Chris Owings on a flyout to right field with the count full.
Mejia’s last major league action came on Sept. 28, 2014. He opened this season on the DL with elbow inflammation. The MLB-imposed suspension for a positive test for Stanozolol came days later.
Uh-oh: Juan Lagares departed the game in the ninth inning with what the team announced as a tight right calf.
What’s next: The Mets take a four-day break. They then face a rugged 10-game stretch to open the second half -- at St. Louis and Washington, then home against the Dodgers. Noah Syndergaard starts Friday’s second-half opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.