Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets hasn't pitched much worse, but he still won his 12th straight today, beating the Chicago Cubs, 8-3.

Despite their sixth straight victory, the Mets' half-game lead in the NL East vanished later in the day when the Cardinals won a doubleheader from the Phillies.

Gooden (18-3) allowed nine hits, walked none and struck out nine. His streak, a club record, equaled Ron Guidry's recent streak for the New York Yankees, longest in the majors this season.

"I guess I was a little shocked," Mets Manager Dave Johnson said about the Cubs' two-run first inning against Gooden. "I've just been spoiled. I'm not used to seeing him give up two runs in a whole ball game."

The Cubs couldn't score again, though, until the eighth inning, and their total of three earned runs matched the most scored off Gooden this season.

"When I've got the ball in my hand, I'm in charge," he said. "I can't be beat. That's the way a pitcher has got to look at it."

The Mets' George Foster hit a two-run homer in the second inning, his 17th, and teammate Darryl Strawberry broke a 2-2 tie in the third inning with a single.

In the Mets' third, Tom Paciorek singled and moved up when Keith Hernandez grounded out. Gary Carter was walked intentionally, and Strawberry singled to break the tie. The Mets cinched it with five runs in the seventh.