Heyward sits against opposing southpaw

Heyward sits against opposing southpaw

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the Giants starting left-hander Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday, the Braves rested Jason Heyward and put Tyler Pastornicky at the top of their lineup. But manager Fredi Gonzalez said Heyward will continue filling the leadoff role in future matchups against southpaw starters.

"I'm starting to see Jason come a little bit to life," Gonzalez said.

Heyward certainly hasn't matched the expectations he created when he moved into the leadoff role in late July and flourished for three weeks before a Jon Niese pitch fractured his jaw. The Braves right fielder has hit .205 with a .304 on-base percentage through his first 37 games this season.

But Heyward has hit .256 with a .333 on-base percentage his past 21 games. During Tuesday night's win over the Giants, he made the most of the one hit he recorded in five at-bats. After hitting a single to begin the sixth, he alertly tagged and advanced to second base when Angel Pagan caught Justin Upton's fly ball in deep right-center field.

"Those things go unnoticed for the people who aren't paying attention," Gonzalez said.

Heyward caught everyone's attention a few moments later when he displayed his athleticism by going around and under Giants catcher Buster Posey's tag to avoid an out that seemed inevitable. Heyward was more than 10 feet away from the plate when Posey received Hunter Pence's throw.

"I don't know," Heyward said when asked how he avoided the tag. "That's some athleticism there. I wasn't going to quit on the play. I saw the ball going home and he walked toward me and I didn't think he was going to walk toward me. I was going to slide regardless. I just made that kind of move."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.