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Reliever Clippard racking up the wins

Reliever Clippard racking up the wins

NEW YORK -- On Sunday, reliever Tyler Clippard became the seventh pitcher in the modern era to record as many as six relief wins in his club's first 31 games. Clippard's win total has him tied for the most in the Majors with Roy Halladay, a Cy Young Award winner, and Ubaldo Jimenez, who tossed a no-hitter earlier this season.

Clippard's last three victories have come after he'd allowed the tying run or go-ahead run to score.

Clippard has been getting a lot of ribbing from his teammates for getting so many wins.

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"You are going to win 25 games," one told him.

"These starters, they are working too hard. All you need to do is throw one inning to get a win," said another.

"It has been funny, but a little ribbing now and then can't hurt," Clippard said.

He even received a text from Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner, a former teammate: "Are you leading the league in wins?" Gardner asked.

"It's weird, man. The last three wins are something I did not want to happen, but if you look at it in a positive light, we are getting wins. That's all that matters," Clippard said. "Whoever gets them in the stats column, it doesn't really matter. We are getting wins.

"A lot of things have to happen. We have been playing a lot of close games, and we have to win them. That's the most important thing. I'm glad to be a part of that. It's not going to continue that way, but it has been fun so far in the sense that we have won the games."

Along with closer Matt Capps, Clippard is one of the Nationals' best relievers. Entering Monday's action against the Mets, Clippard has appeared in 16 games and has a 0.76 ERA, and is third in the National League with seven holds.

There is a concern that Clippard has been used too often. Manager Jim Riggleman would like the rest of the relievers to step up so he wouldn't have to use Clippard as much. In four out of his last five outings, Clippard has pitched more than one inning.

"I'm going to wear Clippard out if we are not careful," Riggleman said. "I would really like to get to the point where we can back off of Clippard a little bit or just have him get two outs sometimes."

Clippard doesn't feel he is being overused. He keeps up his endurance by running, lifting weights and doing arm exercises.

"I've felt good all year. I want the ball at the end of the day. I never feel like I've been overused," he said. "I want to help the club every time. There are other guys who are getting the job done and who will get the job done. It's kind of how it's been going thus far."

Bill Ladson 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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