SAN FRANCISCO — When Brian McCann moved to the third spot in the Braves lineup Sunday and Justin Upton dropped to fourth, it marked the first time all season that Upton hit anywhere but the 3-hole.
Upton is 8-for-42 (.190) with two extra-base hits and three RBIs in his past 13 games, and hasn’t homered in 14 games after hitting 12 home runs in his first 24 games. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Sunday and left six runners on base, twice making the last out of the inning with two on base.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the move was made Sunday to separate left-handed hitters McCann and Freddie Freeman more than anything else. McCann had homered in each of his past two games and was 10-for-29 with a homer against Tim Lincecum before facing the Giants starter on Sunday.
“McCann hits him pretty good,” Gonzalez said before the game. “I didn’t want to put McCann and Freeman up there, put the two lefties together at four and five. So put McCann three, Upton fourth and Freeman fifth. Now if they want to bring a lefty to go through those guys, you’re going to have to go through Justin. That’s the only reason.
“They have pretty good numbers against (Lincecum), Mac and Justin.”
Upton was 11-for-44 with no homers and 15 strikeouts against Lincecum before Sunday. Gonzalez has said many times this season that Upton was his No. 3 hitter, regardless of the opposing pitcher.
Sunday was just the second time all season that anyone appeared in the lineup batting third except Upton, whose other time out of that position was his only game out of the lineup (he ended up getting two at-bats late in that game).
Simmons gets a rest: Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was out of the lineup Sunday. Gonzalez said Simmons goes so hard all the time, both when hitting and playing defense, that he felt compelled to rest him occasionally.
“He worries you a little bit,” Gonzalez said, referring to Simmons’ intensity. “At least he does me.”
Simmons was 1-for-14 in the first three games of the four-game Giants series, after going 11-for-22 with four doubles, two homers and six RBIs in his previous five games.
Etc. Jason Heyward went 2-for-4 with two singles, three RBIs and two strikeouts on Sunday while serving as designated hitter in his third rehab game for Triple-A Gwinnett. The right fielder had an emergency appendectomy April 22 and could rejoin the Braves in the next week, possibly during the Arizona series that starts Monday. However, the team said there was no timetable and the decision would be up to Heyward to return when he feels ready…. The lineup Sunday was the 29th different one for the Braves in 37 games, not including the pitcher’s spot.
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