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Santana is voted NL Pitcher of Month

Santana is voted NL Pitcher of Month

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Johan Santana, who was named on Monday as the National League's Pitcher of the Month for September, saved his best for last in a valiant attempt to push the Mets into the playoffs.

The superlatives were flowing on Saturday when Santana took the mound on three days' rest and came through with a three-hit shutout against Florida that temporarily boosted New York into an NL Wild Card tie. Although the Mets fell short on Sunday and missed out on the postseason, Santana will be remembered for being a true ace as the playoff race intensified in September.

Santana finished the month 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA. The left-hander will receive a specially-designed trophy to commemorate his Pitcher of the Month performance. Santana won that award five times for Minnesota in the American League when Ron Gardenhire was his manager.

"Believe me, they have the best pitcher in baseball," Gardenhire said. "A stud, an athlete, the heart, the whole package."

Santana, who had thrown 125 pitches in his previous start before facing the Marlins on short rest, was just the fifth pitcher since 2000 to post a complete game on three days' rest.

"That's the greatest performance I've ever seen on a baseball field," left fielder Daniel Murphy said. "That was a game we had to have, and he dominated from start to finish. That's something I'll remember forever."

In Saturday's pressure cooker, Santana had both the will and the skill.

"That's the way you take care of business," Santana said.

Santana took care of business all month. In 44 1/3 innings, he allowed nine runs on 39 hits while fanning 47 and walking 13. The 29-year-old lefty didn't allow more than two runs in any of his six starts and he recorded 10 strikeouts on both Sept. 1 at Milwaukee and Sept. 23 at Chicago.

Other pitchers receiving votes were Houston's Roy Oswalt (5-1, 1.42 ERA, 30 Ks) and Randy Wolf (4-1, 2.23 ERA, 28 Ks); Philadelphia's Brad Lidge (13 saves, 0.71 ERA, 17 Ks) and Jamie Moyer (4-0, 3.26 ERA, 17 Ks); the Dodgers' Derek Lowe (3-0, 0.59 ERA, 19 Ks) and San Diego's Chris Young (3-2, 2.38 ERA, 27 Ks).

Santana finished the year at 16-7 with a Major League-best 2.53 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 234 1/3 innings. Prior to Monday's selection, Santana's last Pitcher of the Month honor had come in July 2006. Santana won two AL Cy Young Awards during his tenure with the Twins.

Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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