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Hopefully Carlos Beltran's big day is a sign of things to come

Just in time for the playoffs to start, Cardinals slugger Carlos Beltran seems to have rediscovered his long lost batting stroke.

Beltran was three-for-four Sunday in a key win over the Nationals at Busch Stadium, hitting homers from both sides of the plate and driving in five runs. Beltran also drew a walk during the game.

He drew three walks during the opening game of the Washington series indicating that Beltran seems to have finally tamed his wild swinging ways of late. Beltran hit .444 during the Nationals series and reached base eight times in 13 plate appearances.

Beltran doesn't have to hit the way he did in the first half of the season in order for the Cardinals to be successful in the playoffs -- should they be able to close out the Dodgers with a two-game lead and only three games left in the season. But he has to be more productive than he has been in the second half when he's struggled to hit .225 with little power.

Cardinals fans surely remember how big of an impact Beltran can make in the post season. They witnessed one of the greatest playoff runs in history when the former Astros outfielder batted .455 with four home runs in the 2004 National League division series to earn a berth against St. Louis in the NL Championship Series. In that set, Beltran batted .417 with four homers while drawing eight walks. He reached base in 29 of 56 plate appearances in the playoffs that year.

After the game Sunday, Beltran refused to say that his production has increased because his troublesome knee is doing better. When asked in a post-game interview how he was feeling, Beltran said that no one is especially healthy at this time of year and that players just have to do the best that they can.