NEW YORK - Zack Wheeler learned a couple things Sunday.
Pitching with a big, early lead is fun.
And, it's possible to work through an issue with his motion without losing rhythm on the mound.
Both lessons helped the 24-year-old rising star breeze into the seventh inning, Anthony Recker hit a three-run homer in a five-run first and the New York Mets beat the Texas Rangers 8-4 for a series win.
"It's a big thing for me because not always I was able to find it," Wheeler said of fixing a timing glitch in his mechanics. "It felt good to come back out there and compete."
Lucas Duda had an RBI double and Juan Lagares a run-scoring single in the Mets' biggest opening inning of the season, with all the runs scoring with two outs. New York then got only one hit off Nick Tepesch (3-4) until Kirk Nieuwenhuis led off the sixth with a long ball to right field.
Daniel Murphy's RBI double in the seventh made it 7-1, but reliever Gonzalez Germen allowed Alex Rios' first homer in 46 games and Leonys Martin's two-run drive before getting an out in the eighth.
Ruben Tejada had an RBI single in the eighth to increase New York's lead to a four runs.
"The kind of hit Ruben got in the eighth wins games," manager Terry Collins said.
Jeurys Familia cleaned up for Gonzalez by getting the final two outs in the eighth and closer Jenrry Mejia pitched the ninth.
The Mets needed five relievers to help send Texas to its sixth loss on a seven-game road trip that ended Sunday.
"We still had a lot of baseball to play and we ended up doing that," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't make up for the runs that they put on the board."
Wheeler (4-8) had his second straight solid outing in an up-and-down season to help the Mets win for just the third time in 11 games. The lanky right-hander lasted 6 1-3 innings and gave up a run and six hits, including Robinson Chirinos' second homer of the series.
It was Wheeler's first victory in his last 10 home starts. He is 1-6 over that span.
"We've got a young pitcher on our hands who's going to be really, really good," Collins said. "Zack gets better each start. Today his velocity was consistent throughout the game."
A day after Texas rode Chirinos' three-run shot in a four-run first for a 5-3 victory, Recker put New York up 5-0 with a flyball that down the left-field line.
"To put up five in the first inning is pretty cool," Recker said.
Tepesch, whose start was pushed back twice last week and pitched nine days ago, was hurt by two walks in the first.
Curtis Granderson walked leading off and, after Duda drove in his 12th run 15 games with a two-out double, Nieuwenhuis was walked to extend the inning for Lagares. Tejada walked after Recker's homer but Wheeler struck out.
But Tepesch settled until Tejada had a one-out double in the fourth. In six innings, Tepesch allowed six runs and five hits. He walked four and struck out four.
"Just tried to get back to just commanding it down in the zone and making good pitches down in the zone," Tepesch said of rebounding from the first.
The 25-year-old Tepesch got his first big league hit in his fifth career at-bat, sending a bouncer past diving shortstop Tejada leading off the fifth. Tejada robbed Tepesch of a hit in the third inning with a diving catch.
NOTES: The Mets have scored 60 runs in the first, their best inning this season. ... Texas starting pitchers have hits in each of the three games. ... LHP Joe Saunders has cleared waivers and is now a free agent. The Rangers designated him for assignment Tuesday after he went winless in eight starts. He is 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA. ... The Mets placed LHP Jonathon Niese on the DL with shoulder fatigue. RHP Dillon Gee (right lat strain), on the DL since May 11, threw a bullpen Sunday and could take Niese's spot in the rotation Wednesday. ... Up next: The Mets host NL East-leading Atlanta Braves for four games. The Rangers return to Texas for a three-game set with Houston. The Rangers have lost 15 of 23 at home.