ATLANTA -- With one out in the fourth inning of the Rockies' 6-0 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night, Carlos Gonzalez turned on a hanging breaking ball from right-hander Tommy Hanson and blasted the pitch deep into the center-field seats.
Measured at 450 feet, the home run was the longest hit this season in Turner Field. It was also just Gonzalez's second homer since July 23, a span of 115 at-bats.
Over the last six weeks, Gonzalez has had to take on a bigger role for the offense, which has lost first baseman Todd Helton and right fielder Michael Cuddyer in the last month. Without shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who has missed the last three months, Gonzalez has had to shoulder a lot of the offensive burden.
Gonzalez has noticed that teams are attacking him differently without his more experienced teammates in the lineup.
"It's been different since Tulo was hurt, Cuddyer was hurt," Gonzalez said. "I feel like the oldest guy on the team right now. There's nothing I can do about it. I still have to go out there and just wait for my pitches and do anything possible to help the team."
Manager Jim Tracy will be happy if Gonzalez is able to continue to stay patient at the plate. He wants Gonzalez to take after Helton, the Rockies' longtime No. 3 hitter, and not be afraid to take a walk if opposing pitchers won't throw him strikes.
"If there's anyone that wears a Rockies uniform that [has a mind-set of] 'I'm not going to get myself out,' it's Todd Helton," Tracy said. "And you're hopeful that Carlos Gonzalez continues to move forward, tears a page out of that book and gains an even further understanding of hitting third and what that entails."
Gonzalez is hitting .312 with 22 home runs. He has a .382 on-base percentage, which would be a career high if he can maintain it during the season's final month.
Tracy is impressed with how Gonzalez handled himself while the lineup was devastated by injuries.
"For Carlos Gonzalez to continue to handle the situation, I think it's a definite sign of how much he's grown up over the last year to year-plus," Tracy said. "It's not easy what he's doing. It's really, really not easy what he's doing."