MONTREAL, AUG. 2 -- Darryl Strawberry's latest slump started when the New York Mets broke off contract talks with the right fielder in July. But this is a new month.

Strawberry hit a two-run homer and an RBI single and Frank Viola became the National League's first 15-game winner of the season as the New York Mets beat the Montreal Expos, 5-1, today.

Strawberry, who was zero for 18, broke a 1-1 tie with a run-scoring single off Dennis Martinez (7-8) during a two-run sixth inning, then hit his 26th homer, tops in the NL, in a three-run eighth.

"I didn't panic," Strawberry said. "I knew I was swinging the bat well, but there are always streaks in baseball -- both good and bad. It's the beginning of a new month and I look at that as the beginning of a new season."

Strawberry is in the final year of a six-year contract and wants a deal approaching Jose Canseco's $23.5 million over five years. The Mets have offered Strawberry just over $9 million for three years.

Viola (15-5) allowed six hits, struck out seven and walked one in pitching his sixth complete game for the East Division-leading Mets, who lead Pittsburgh by a game.

"They're a free-swinging team," Viola said. "I had good location with my fastball and they went fishing for my change."

Viola's performance impressed Expos Manager Buck Rodgers.

"That's the best I've seen him throw since he came over here," Rodgers said.

Howard Johnson began New York's rally in the sixth with a one-out single against Martinez, who had blanked the Mets on three hits over the first five innings. Johnson stole second as Dave Magadan struck out.

Gregg Jefferies then drove in Johnson with a triple off the right field fence, before Strawberry singled to center, making it 2-1.

The Mets increased their lead to 5-1 in the eighth when Magadan led off with a double, and with one out, Strawberry homered over the right-center field fence, and Kevin McReynolds followed with his 14th homer, his first since July 3, knocking out Martinez.

Montreal took a 1-0 lead in the third when Mike Fitzgerald and Spike Owen singled. After Martinez forced Fitzgerald at third on a sacrifice attempt, Owen scored on Delino DeShields's double.

With runners on second and third, Viola struck out Otis Nixon and got Tim Raines to pop to first.

Both teams had opportunities to score in the middle innings. The Expos got runners to third in the fourth and fifth but failed to capitalize.

"I only made two mistakes," Martinez said. "But you can't make mistakes against this team."