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Gio, Harper win May NL honors

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Gio, Harper win May NL honors

For a franchise that has rarely boasted any prominent award winners in its brief history, the Nationals certainly are experiencing a reversal of fortunes this season.

The Nationals learned today left-hander Gio Gonzalez was named NL Pitcher of the Month for May and outfielder Bryce Harper was named NL Rookie of the Month for May.

Gonzalez was 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts last month, leading the league with 45 strikeouts. In voting among media members across baseball, the lefty beat out the Mets' R.A. Dickey (4-0, 1.83), the Phillies' Cole Hamels (5-0, 2.25) and the Dodgers' Chris Capuano (4-1, 1.62).

Harper, meanwhile, earned the first award of his big-league career by hitting .271 with 21 runs, four triples, four homers and 10 RBI. The 19-year-old former No. 1 draft pick beat out the likes of Diamondbacks right-hander Wade Miley (3-1, 3.16), Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso (.298 average, one homer, 10 RBI), Phillies second baseman Freddy Galvis (.255, two homers, 18 RBI) and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier (.246, five homers, 11 RBI).

Thus, the Nationals' early season run on official MLB awards continues. Stephen Strasburg already earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors for April. He and Gonzalez become the first teammates to win the award in back-to-back months since the Braves' Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe in August and September 2010.

This is uncharted territory for the Nationals. In their first seven seasons of existence, they won only two monthly awards: Ryan Church was NL Rookie of the Month in May 2005, and Chad Cordero was NL Pitcher of the Month in June 2005.

So in the last two months, the Nationals have won more awards than they amassed in the previous seven years combined.

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Washington Nationals celebrate NL East title

Washington Nationals celebrate NL East title

Two things had to happen for the Nationals to clinch the NL East title Saturday night. They had to beat the Pirates, and the Mets had to lose to the Phillies.

Both of those things happened, and the Nats wasted no time getting the celebration going. 

And they kept it going. 

Bryce Harper sported a Katie Ledecky swim cap to protect his flow from the flying liquid.

Then the team left the clubhouse, apparently to go roam Pittsburgh and find some Nats fans to celebrate with.

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Bryce Harper celebrates courtesy of Katie Ledecky in post-game celebration

Bryce Harper celebrates courtesy of Katie Ledecky in post-game celebration

Bryce Harper always talks about loving Washington, D.C. and after winning another NL East crown, he honored one of the local legends from the Rio games.

Katie Ledecky was one of the stars of the Olympics and the Bethesda resident appears to have given Harper a swimcap to celebrate clinching the NL East.

She reached out to Harper on twitter and appreciated the MVP sporting the swim cap.