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MLB Notebook: Gio becomes new ace in town

In the 137-year history of the National League, only one pitcher has finished the season qualifying for the ERA title with a strikeout rate of at least 11 per nine innings, a hit rate of fewer than six per nine innings and a WHIP below 1.00.

Neither the Dodgers nor Giants -- with Sandy Koufax, Hideo Nomo, Christy Mathewson and Juan Marichal -- have claim on this hurler. The Mets (with Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden), the Phillies (with Pete Alexander and Steve Carlton), the Astros (with Mike Scott and Nolan Ryan, among others) and the Diamondbacks (with the likes of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling) also do not have ownership of this singular pitcher.

It's actually the Montreal Expos who have the title and registration to Pedro Martinez's 1997 campaign, which can be referred to as the year Pedro became Pedro. That season, the 25-year-old right-hander fanned 11.37 batters per nine innings, allowed 5.89 hits per nine, compiled a 0.932 WHIP, and finished with a 1.90 ERA. When compared to the league average and adjusted for ballpark, that works out to a nifty 219 ERA+, which is 11th best in NL history. Pedro took home his first NL Cy Young Award that season, becoming the first Expos pitcher to win that honor. In name, the Expos will not claim another, but the franchise -- thanks to left-hander Gio Gonzalez -- may indeed see another one of its pitchers be named as the league's best in 2012.

Gio Gonzalez
Gonzalez allowed one run, three hits and five walks in six innings on Monday, and he picked up his 19th win of the year in the Nationals' 5-1 victory over the Mets. Gonzalez is the first pitcher to reach 19 wins this season.

Gonzalez matched Steve Rogers (1982) for the second-most victories in Expos/Nationals history. Only Ross Grimsley, with 20 wins in '78, had more.

Gonzalez owns a K/9 rate of 9.5 and a hits/9 rate of 6.8. Looking ahead a bit, five left-handed pitchers have had a season (or multiple seasons) with at least 20 wins, a K/9 over nine and a hits/9 under seven. Johnson -- who did it in 1997, 2001 and '02 -- is the only lefty to do it more than once. In 1956, Herb Score was the first to do it, and the young Indians righty was then followed by Sandy Koufax ('65), Johnson, Johan Santana (2004) and Clayton Kershaw ('11).

San Diego Padres
The Padres tied a season high for runs, had five players collect at least two hits and defeated the Cardinals, 11-3, to improve to 67-75 on the season. San Diego ended June with a 29-50 record -- the second worst in the Majors. Since then, the Padres have gone 38-25 -- the fifth-best record in the Majors. During this span, San Diego has scored the fourth-most runs in the NL.

Oakland Athletics
The visiting Athletics defeated the Angels, 3-1, with Jarrod Parker (seven innings pitched, three hits, one run) and two relievers combining on a four-hitter.

Oakland has won 10 consecutive road games, tying the Angels (May 22 through June 11) for the longest road winning streak this season. The Athletics last won 10 consecutive road games in 2002. That streak was part of their AL-record 20-game winning streak.

The A's improved to 80-60 for the season and moved to within three games of the Rangers in the AL West, while taking a two-game lead over the Orioles for the top spot in the Wild Card race. Since the start of July, the A's are a Major League-best 43-18.

Parker's outing gave Oakland 33 games this season in which the starter has finished with at least seven innings pitched and no more than one run allowed. The 33 games are the third most in the Majors (the Mariners and Mets each have 34). Over the past 20 seasons, the most for an Athletics team in a year is the 39 games produced by the 2002 team, followed by 37 in '11.

Buster Posey
In San Francisco's 6-5 loss to Colorado, Giants catcher Buster Posey went 3-for-5, hit his 21st home run, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs. Posey is batting .330, with a .404 on-base percentage and a .538 slugging percentage. In baseball history, 12 catchers have finished a season with at least 20 home runs and a .330 or better batting average.

Slugging Catchers
Catchers with 20-plus homers and a .330 or higher batting average
Player Year BA HR
Mike Piazza 1997 .362 40
Gabby Hartnett 1930 .339 37
Mike Piazza 1996 .336 36
Ivan Rodriguez 1999 .332 35
Mike Piazza 1995 .346 32
Bill Dickey 1937 .332 29
Joe Mauer 2009 .365 28
Ivan Rodriguez 2000 .347 27
Brian McCann 2006 .333 24
Bill Dickey 1936 .362 22
Elston Howard 1961 .348 21
Jorge Posada 2007 .338 20

Samuel Deduno
Samuel Deduno allowed three hits in seven innings of two-run ball and picked up the win as the Twins defeated the Indians, 7-2. Deduno has made 12 starts for Minnesota this season, and he has finished his day with at least six innings and no more than three hits allowed in four of those starts. Those four are the most for the ballclub. On the other hand, he has also walked at least three batters in 10 of his 12 starts, with the 10 being the second most on the team.

Norichika Aoki
Norichika Aoki's two-run double in the seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie, and the Brewers went on to defeat the Braves, 4-1.

Milwaukee, which has won 16 of its past 21 games, moved to within five games of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.

Aoki -- who doubled twice in the game -- is fourth among Major League rookies in hits (124), third in doubles (29), fourth in runs (66), fifth in extra-base hits (41) and second in steals (24).

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox got consecutive home runs from Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski in the sixth inning and defeated the Tigers, 6-1, widening their lead over Detroit in the AL Central to three games.

Rios, who also collected his 33rd double in the game, drove in three on his 23rd home run of the year. In 2011, Rios owned 37 extra-base hits, drove in 44 runs, stole 11 bases and collected 187 total bases. In '12, he has 63 extra-base hits (sixth in the AL), 85 RBIs (12th), 20 steals (tied for 12th) and 272 total bases (ninth).

Pierzynski hit his 26th home run of the year, tying Carlton Fisk (1983) for the second most for a catcher in his age-35 season or older. In '83, Fisk was in his age-35 season, like Pierzynski in 2012. Two years later, Fisk hit 37 home runs.

Kyle Kendrick
Kyle Kendrick (seven innings, two hits, one run) and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and the Phillies defeated the Marlins, 3-1.

With the victory, Philadelphia -- which has won 16 of 22 -- moved to within five games of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.

With the win, Kendrick improved to 7-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 16 appearances (nine starts) in 64 2/3 innings since the start of July. In the first three months of the season, Kendrick owned a 2-8 record and a 5.35 ERA in 17 appearances (12 starts).

Norichika Aoki, Samuel Deduno, Gio Gonzalez, Kyle Kendrick, Clayton Kershaw, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Pierzynski, Buster Posey, Alex Rios, Johan Santana