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Ramirez: Clutch Performer of the Month

Ramirez wins July's clutch award

CHICAGO -- Aramis Ramirez has provided clutch hits all season for the Cubs, and on Monday, he was honored for his heroics.

Ramirez was selected as July's Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month, presented by Pepsi, honoring the player who best excelled with games on the line.

"Yeah, he's Mr. Clutch -- he's done a great job," Cubs pitcher Rich Hill said of Ramirez, who leads the team with 69 RBIs. "Every time he gets up there in those situations, he's been able to produce."

Ramirez batted .351 in July with 11 doubles, one homer and 22 RBIs. What's impressive is that he hit .556 (15-for-27) with runners in scoring position for the month, including seven doubles and the homer. He had a season-high four RBIs on July 14 against Houston and matched that six days later against Arizona.

On July 16 against San Francisco, Ramirez delivered a two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory.

"It doesn't faze him at all -- he's got ice water running in his veins," Chicago infielder Ryan Theriot said of Ramirez. "He's got the same approach in a game-winning situation that he always has -- he's trying to drive the ball.

"He's been a guy who we've leaned on pretty heavily. That's why he's the player he is -- he's a game-changing guy at the plate, no doubt about it."

Ramirez, who will have to pick up the pace with the team's loss of Alfonso Soriano to a right quadriceps tear, figures he's just doing his job.

"That's what they pay me for, to drive in runs," Ramirez said. "You want to be in that situation. You want to be the guy who wins the game. Lately, it's been up to me, and I've come through."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella has noticed.

"He's one of the elite," Piniella said. "He likes to be up there in those type of situations. That really is what makes guys successful -- that's the first step, and [the] most important step is having the confidence they can get it done, and he does."

Ramirez was selected for the award via fan balloting from a group of candidates that also included Baltimore's Erik Bedard, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, Cleveland's Ryan Garko, Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips and Florida's Hanley Ramirez.

The honor is one of two new MLB-sanctioned, Pepsi-sponsored awards as part of an ongoing multi-platform marketing campaign involving Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and Pepsi, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as the official soft drink of Major League Baseball.

At the conclusion of the 2007 regular season, fans will have the opportunity to vote on the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Presented by Pepsi from among six finalists selected by a special MLB.com editorial panel. Fans will also be able to enter for a chance to win a trip to the 2008 All-Star Game.

Carrie Muskat 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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