Red-hot Tulowitzki, Gonzalez carrying Rockies

The Sports Xchange

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez are playing exceedingly well, which helps explain the Rockies' hot streak and which will have to continue for them to get back in the thick of the NL West race.

The Rockies, winners of five straight on their just-concluded 7-2 homestand, begin a nine-game trip Friday at Los Angeles with stops coming in Arizona and San Diego. Manager Jim Tracy said, "Now because of some of the things that are taking place, this becomes a very interesting nine-game road trip."

The Rockies have 31 games remaining, 13 of them with the Giants and Diamondbacks. At 63-68, the Rockies are five games below .500 for the first time since July 30. They are nine games behind the first-place Diamondbacks and six behind the Giants.

To be sure, the Rockies have plenty of work to do. But after months of going nowhere, they finally have the wind at their back. Better yet, they have hope, along with a little history, too. The Rockies came from far back to win the wild card in 2007 and 2009. It's the division or bust this year, because of how far the Rockies are behind the wild-card leading Braves. But their current surge has given the Rockies a sense of hope as August winds down.

"We've done it before," Tulowitzki said. "If one thing's in our favor, of all the teams, we've been here before. We have to use that to our advantage. It's still a longshot, but if anybody can do it, it'll be us."

Tulowitzki and Gonzalez have had marvelous months. Gonzalez has a 12-game hitting streak and has at least one RBI in nine straight games, one short of the franchise record, set by Vinny Castilla in 2004.

Gonzalez is hitting .362 (17-for-47) with seven doubles and 23 RBI during his 12-game hitting streak. He came off the disabled list Aug. 6 and has four doubles, eight homers and 27 RBI in the month.

Tulowitzki hit .364 (12-for-33) on the just-concluded nine-game homestand with three homers and seven RBI. He has seven doubles, six homers and 16 RBI for the month and has raised his average 16 points to .305 by going 31-for-81 (.383). And Tulowitzki hasn't committed an error in 49 consecutive games, the longest streak of his career.

"These are special players in the middle of our lineup," manager Jim Tracy said of Gonzalez, who bats third, and cleanup hitter Tulowitzki. The Rockies gave long-term deals to both last season, and with big contracts come sizable expectations.

"It's fair that there's pressure on us," Tulowitzki said. "We make a lot of money. There's no hiding the fact that the team does better when we do well. At the same time, we are going to have ups and downs. And there will be times, when he's hot and I am not.

"Right now, we have it going together, and obviously we need to keep it up."

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