Heyward breaks out power bat vs. Marlins

Cardinals outfielder shows the trade with Atlanta for Miller is working for St. Louis

Heyward breaks out power bat vs. Marlins

ST. LOUIS -- Separated by 554 miles on Sunday, Jason Heyward and Shelby Miller ensured that two clubs continue to mutually benefit from a November deal that has, as both teams hoped, brought immediate payoff in two cities.

As Miller was stringing together seven no-hit innings down in Atlanta, Heyward was rediscovering his power swing in Sunday's 6-4 loss against the Marlins. Held homerless since the Cardinals visited Miami in late June, Heyward teed off twice against Marlins starter David Phelps to give the Cardinals an early lead.

Though Miami eventually rallied, Heyward continues to assert himself a worthy return for Miller, who has done special things in his first season with the Braves. Miller, who had already come one out shy a no-hitter in May, lost Sunday's in the eighth inning.

Heyward had been without a homer for 45 games (162 at-bats) since going deep in three straight games from June 22-24. His previous two home runs had also come versus the Marlins, against whom he's gone deep 11 times in his career. There's a familiarity there, of course, as Heyward played his first five seasons in the National League East.

"I have been playing against them a long time," Heyward said after his sixth career multi-hit game, but first with St. Louis. "There have been some good games [I've played] against them in Atlanta and at home. [I] just tried to keep it simple and put some good swings on pitches."

Though home runs had been absent from Heyward's contributions over the last seven weeks, the right fielder has had plenty of impact. He's become a consistent middle-of-the-order presence for a team missing three-hole hitter Matt Holliday and cleanup hitter Matt Adams.

Heyward leads the team with 18 stolen bases and a .288 batting average that has steadily climbed since he hit .224 over the season's first month. His home runs on Sunday also made him the team's seventh player to reach double figures this year. He tallied his sixth assist of the season on Sunday and also proved valuable in his ability to slide into center field when Randal Grichuk left with an injury.

It marked Heyward's first appearance in center since he started 20 games there in 2013.

"Center field is fun," he said afterward. "Outfield is fun. I just like playing defense. It was cool to be out there. There are fewer walls, more room to roam around."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.