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More clutch hits for Cubs' Gonzalez
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10/08/2003  1:53 AM ET 
More clutch hits for Cubs' Gonzalez
Chicago shortstop drives in a team-high three runs
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Alex Gonzalez hits a two-run homer in the sixth inning. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
CHICAGO -- In the battle of the dueling Alex Gonzalezes, Florida's shortstop came up big in the field, but it was Chicago's shortstop who had a huge night at the plate Tuesday.

Chicago's Alex Gonzalez went 3-for-5 in the Cubs' 9-8 loss in 11 innings to the Florida Marlins in Game 1 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. He fell a triple short of the cycle.

More importantly, Gonzalez doubled in a run in a four-run first inning and launched the game-tying two-run homer in the sixth inning.

    Alex Gonzalez   /   SS
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Cubs site

"I was seeing the ball well tonight, and it was good to be able to get it going, since it was a high-scoring game," Gonzalez said. "Every hit and every run matters in a game like that. You never know what run is gonna be the winning run. So you've got to keep swinging through the whole nine innings."

Manager Dusty Baker said Gonzalez, along with Sammy Sosa, came through in a big way for the Cubs and kept them in the ballgame.

"Gonzalez had an outstanding day," Baker said. "We just came out on the short end of things."

Gonzalez is no stranger to clutch hits. The shortstop's first homer of the postseason gave the Cubs an early 2-1 lead in their eventual Game 5 win over the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.

He had a chance to be the hero again in the 10th inning Tuesday, when he came to the plate with two outs and no one on base. For the first time Tuesday night, however, he struck out swinging to end the inning.

During the regular season, Gonzalez had three game-winning, extra-inning homers for the Cubs in a string of 10 days. The first came May 1 against San Francisco, the next three days later May 4 vs. Colorado and the third May 10 against the Cardinals. He also stroked a game-winning, ninth-inning, bases-loaded single against the Cardinals on July 5.

His three extra-inning homers tied the high mark for the Cubs, set by Ernie Banks in 1955 and Ron Santo in 1966.

The 30-year-old Miami native has hit five game-winning homers in his two seasons with the Cubs and has nine game-winning hits in the Cubs' last at-bat.

Gonzalez batted .250 in 12 Division Series at-bats, walking twice and scoring once with one RBI. During the regular season, he hit .228 with a career-high 20 homers and drove in 59 runs.

Gonzalez keeps his approach the same, no matter the situation.

"I've just got to keep swinging," he said. "I'm doing the same thing I was doing before. Especially in these playoff games, it seems to take it to another level whether it's concentration or making sure you try to make things happen. I don't know exactly what it is. It's a good time to be hitting the ball well. They always say the time to get your bat going is the postseason."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Gonzalez has come up with a number of big hits for the club this season.

"The first half of the year, when he was hitting .240 or .250, he got a lot of hits in late innings," he said. "He's had some walk-off home runs, he had a big blow [on Sunday], and he's played remarkably good defense here down the stretch."

Gonzalez couldn't explain the night's 17 combined runs. Isn't good pitching supposed to beat good hitting?

"Tonight was definitely the night of the bats," he said. "They came out on both sides of the field. You never know what's going to happen on these games. The wind was blowing out, and you had a feel it was going to be a high-scoring game.

"I'm kind of mentally drained right now and am looking forward to a good night's sleep. We battled the best we could and tomorrow's another game."

Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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