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Gio, Harper take home NL honors for May

Gio, Harper take home NL honors for May

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Gio, Harper take home NL honors for May
WASHINGTON -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez was named the National League Pitcher of the Month of May on Sunday, while outfielder Bryce Harper was named the NL Rookie of the Month.

With Gonzalez winning the award, it marks the second consecutive monthly honor for a Nationals pitcher after Stephen Strasburg won the same award in April. The Nationals are the first club to have winners in the opening months of the season since 2009, when Ubaldo Jimenez won in April and May for the Colorado Rockies.

In five May starts, Gonzalez was a perfect 5-0 and tied for the Major League lead in wins while compiling a 2.25 ERA in 32 innings, with an NL-leading 45 strikeouts. His five wins are the most by a Nationals pitcher during the month of May since Livan Hernandez accomplished the feat with a perfect 5-0 record in May 2005.

Entering play Sunday, Gonzalez's 2.04 ERA and 0.94 WHIP ranked second among qualifying NL pitchers this season, while his 79 strikeouts were tied with Strasburg for second in the league. This is Gonzalez's first career monthly award.

As for Harper, he hit .271 (29-for-107) in May and led NL rookies with 21 runs scored and four triples. His 107 at-bats were also tops among league rookies, while his two stolen bases were tied for first. Harper, 19, ranked second among the league's rookie class with 29 hits and third with four home runs while collecting 10 RBIs during the month.

Harper gave credit to his teammates: "I had a lot guys play around me," Harper said. "Having guys like [Adam] LaRoche, [Ryan Zimmerman] -- they have really helped me out with pitchers and baserunners. [Jayson] Werth is huge on that. He has been big with me on baserunning and things like that. ... It's a lot of fun being out here with this club. We're a good team, and we are going to keep it all going."

The first overall selection of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Harper has played a key role for the NL East-leading Nationals since his April 28 callup from Triple-A Syracuse. Harper averaged over a hit per game during his first full calendar month in the Majors, which included nine multihit performances. Harper collected hits in nine consecutive games from May 20th-29, hitting .400 (14-for-35) with two homers and six RBIs in that span. His bat propelled the Nationals to a three-game sweep of the division-rival Braves at Turner Field from May 25-27, as he went a combined 5-for-11 with a pair of homers.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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