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Strasburg wins NL Pitcher of Month

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Strasburg wins NL Pitcher of Month

Stephen Strasburg's dominant April earned the right-hander National League Pitcher of the Month honors today.

Strasburg, who went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, 34 strikeouts and six walks in five starts, won the award on the votes of media members who regularly cover NL clubs.

The 23-year-old has been credited with a quality start each time he's taken the mound this season and has been charged with zero or one earned run in four of those five starts.

His 1.13 ERA ranks second in the NL at the moment (trailing only the Diamondbacks' Joe Saunders, who carries a 0.90 ERA into tonight's game against the Nationals) and his 34 strikeouts are tied for third-most in the league (behind Cole Hamels and Matt Garza, each with 36).

This award further distances Strasburg from the Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for most of 2011. In 10 total starts now since returning from his torn elbow ligament, Strasburg is 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA, a 58-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 0.804 WHIP.

Strasburg is the first member of the Nationals to earn league Player, Pitcher or Rookie of the Month honors since closer Chad Cordero was named NL Pitcher of the Month in June 2005. Outfielder Ryan Church also won NL Rookie of the Month in May 2005.

Strasburg is scheduled to make his next start Friday night against the Phillies.

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Nationals rally against Rivero, beat Pirates 10-7

Nationals rally against Rivero, beat Pirates 10-7

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pinch-hitter Jayson Werth hit a tying two-run homer, Chris Heisey drove in the go-ahead run, and the Washington Nationals scored five runs off former teammate Felipe Rivero in the eighth inning to rally past the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-7 on Sunday.

Clint Robinson added an RBI single and Pedro Severino drew a bases-loaded walk in the inning. Rivero (1-5) had allowed just four earned runs in his previous 25 innings since being traded to the Pirates.

Jung Ho Kang hit a two-run homer off Koda Glover to give the Pirates the lead in the bottom of the seventh, but Glover (3-0) got the win with the Nationals' offensive outburst the following half inning.

Former Pirates closer Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 43rd save.

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Benches clear in confrontation between Nats and Pirates

Benches clear in confrontation between Nats and Pirates

With the division title clinched the night before, it seemed the Nationals were poised for an uneventful series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. 

That wasn't to be, as the two clubs engaged in a benches clearing altercation in the bottom of the third inning. The tension started in the top of the frame, when Bryce Harper was injured while sliding to third base on a triple. The Nats took exception to Pirates third baseman Jung-ho Kang faking a tag on Harper, which may have led to the injury. 

So when Nats starter A.J. Cole threw behind Kang in the bottom of the inning, the near-fracas was ignited.

Cole was immediately ejected from the game, benches cleared, and each side exchanged words. The Pirates' Sean Rodriguez was also ejected from the game.