Slumping Heyward gets a rest

LOS ANGELES — Jason Heyward was out of the Braves’ lineup Thursday afternoon for the first time this season, and the slumping right fielder had no objections before the game.

“Most definitely, it’s nice to have a day off,” said Heyward, who is 7-for-47 (.149) with two RBIs in his past 14 games. “Coming into the season from spring training, with some things nagging, and that doubleheader [Saturday] was tough. Nice to have a day.”

He ended up having a impact Thursday, entering as a pinch-runner for Chipper Jones in the ninth inning after Jones’ two-out single. With the Braves trailing 2-1, Heyward raced from first to third on Dan Uggla’s single to left field, sliding hands-first.

Uggla went to second on the throw, and both scored on David Ross’ single.

Heyward stayed in the game and popped out to start the 11th inning, making him 0-for-14 in the series and dropping his average to .188 and on-base percentage to .309, though he still leads the Braves with four homers.

He went 0-for-4 with a season-high three strikeouts in Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to the Dodgers, when Jon Garland threw a four-hit complete game.

As a rookie in 2010, Heyward hit .277 with 18 homers and a .393 OBP — one of the best OBPs history for a player so young. His numbers might have been even better if he hadn’t played much of the season with a thumb injury that sapped his power.

Asked Wednesday if the left thumb was still a problem, Heyward didn’t hesitate with his reply: “No, my thumb is fine. It’s been good. Haven’t had any issues with that at all.”

What he has had issues with is Dodgers pitching. He was 0-for-14 in the first three games the series to make him 1-for-25 with no walks in his past six games against the Dodgers, and 3-for-42 (.071) with 15 strikeouts in his career.

That includes 2-for-31 with 11 strikeouts at Dodger Stadium.

“I don’t know what it is about here,” he said. “Picking up the ball [seeing pitches] is not the easiest thing here. But they’ve pitched well, man.”

Asked about Heyward’s struggles, Jones said he also has had trouble seeing the ball at Dodger Stadium.

Heyward was struggling well before the Braves got to Los Angeles. He has hit .149 in 11 road games, and he’s 2-for-17 with runners on base, tied for fourth-worst in the National League before Thursday.

Two-hole is ‘black hole’

Alex Gonzalez moved into the two-hole in the lineup for a day and went 1-for-5 — slightly better than average for the Braves from what has been a dreadful spot in their lineup so far.

Braves No. 2 hitters — Nate McLouth (14 starts), Heyward (four), Freddie Freeman (one) and Gonzalez (one) — have hit .187 (14-for-75) with one homer and four RBIs.

After moving from the two-hole to the eighth spot, McLouth had three consecutive two-hit games to start the Dodgers series.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez smiled when it was mentioned to him that Alex Gonzalez was not a typical No. 2 hitter.

“Someone’s got to hit there,” he said, laughing. “It seems like the black hole.”

He feigned a hitter being told he was hitting second: “Oh, no, no, no,” he said.

“We’ll go with a designated out,” Gonzalez said. “Nah, it’ll change. It’ll change.”

Chipper nears birthday

Jones’s 39th birthday is Sunday, and he half-heartedly solicited gifts in the clubhouse Thursday morning while lounging in front of a television with teammates.

“If anyone wants to get me anything, my birthday’s Sunday,” he said. “I’m only accepting cans of mint Skoal, long cut, and bottles of Crown Royal.”