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Gonzalez continues to rake in NLDS

Gonzalez continues to rake in NLDS

DENVER -- Carlos Gonzalez speaks softly and, apparently, carries an awfully big stick.

From the looks of it, he might be one of the few that is.

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Gonzalez spoke in hushed tones after the Phillies topped the Rockies, 6-5, in Game 3 of the NLDS at Coors Field, ever mindful that this wasn't the day or place to laud his own success at the plate.

Pulse
Rockies at a glance
2009 record: 92-70
2008 record: 74-88
Clinched NL Wild Card
NLDS matchup:
Rockies at Phillies
Postseason tix: Information

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Gonzalez: Bat on fire
Bullpen: Hitting stride
Gonzalez: Rewarding Rox
Giambi: Impact beyond bat
Tulowitzki: Ready for return
Cook: Returns right on time
Barmes: Credit to Tracy
Marquis: Living in moment
Ubaldo: Big-game pitcher
Helton/Giambi: Leaders
Stewart: Emerging star
Tracy: Quiet leader
Street: Mutual admiration
De La Rosa: Earning trust
Ubaldo: Sending a message
Helton: Resurgent slugger
Morales: On the attack
Tulowitzki: Vigorous finish

But how can you ignore what the 23-year-old left fielder -- Gonzalez turns 24 on Oct. 17 -- has done in the first three games of the NLDS against the Phillies.

Gonzalez will carry a .615 batting average into Monday's Game 4 of the series, one that the Phillies lead 2-1. One more Phillies victory and Gonzalez, his bat and the rest of the Rockies are done for the season.

"He's jump-started our team," Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler said. "He's swinging the bat well."

Gonzalez had three more hits on Sunday, giving him eight in three games. Better still, he hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and fell a triple short of the cycle. All told, he reached base four times, walking in the ninth inning.

"I really don't think about this being the playoffs," Gonzalez said. "I'm just going up there and playing it like it's any other game."

If the Rockies are to push the series to a Game 5 back in Philadelphia on Tuesday, they will need more than Gonzalez to help get them there. The Rockies were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Sunday's loss.

And now they'll get Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee in Game 4. It was Lee who held the Rockies scoreless for eight innings in Game 1 before allowing a ninth-inning run.

"Everyone should remember how [Lee] pitched them. Hopefully he's not as on as he was the last time," Colorado third baseman Garrett Atkins said. "It's not easy, but I like our chances."

A SPARK AT THE TOP
Carlos Gonzalez has been the bright spot for the Rox offense. He's hit leadoff the past two games, and hit second in Game 1.
AB R H HR RBI
Game 1 4 1 2 0 0
Game 2 5 1 3 0 0
Game 3 4 3 3 1 1
Totals 13 5 8 1 1

Gonzalez has been one of the few bright spots for the Rockies' offense. The team is hitting .255 in three games, but just .200 if you take away the eight hits in 13 at-bats that its leadoff hitter has.

"I'm just trying to be patient at the plate, that's the whole key," Gonzalez said. "I'm up there concentrating, waiting for my pitch. When I get it, that's when I want to do some damage to it."

In some ways, Gonzalez's hot stretch at the plate is an extension of what he's done since the All-Star break, when he hit .320 with 12 home runs and 24 RBI in 62 games.

Better still, in the playoffs, the left-handed hitting Gonzalez has done most of his damage against three lefty starters for the Phillies, Lee, Cole Hamels and on Sunday, J.A. Happ.

"I just feel really focused at the plate, that if they throw me something away, I'll just go with it [to the opposite field] and if they come inside, I'll turn on it," Gonzalez said.

Corey Brock 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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