CHICAGO -- When Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to sit Jason Heyward for three games from Aug. 19-21, it wasn't punishment, but a chance to reflect. And the time out has paid off.
Heyward drove in three runs, including a game-tying single in the ninth and a walk-off single with one out in the 13th inning, to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Giants on Sunday at Wrigley Field. He notched the game-winner against lefty Matt Reynolds, driving in Anthony Rizzo, who had singled and moved up after Ben Zobrist grounded out. The Giants chose to intentionally walk Addison Russell to face Heyward, who wasn't surprised by the move.
"Of course, Addison has 88 RBIs, so it made all the sense in the world," Maddon said of the Giants' decision. "Of course, it has to motivate [Heyward]."
"You go up there with the mindset of just trying to keep it simple and getting a good pitch and not missing it," Heyward said. "Just get a good pitch to hit, and that way you don't let the moment get to you and you don't let it become more than it needs to be."
In 13 games since sitting out that series in Colorado in mid-August, Heyward is batting .308 with nine RBIs.
"I hate to say 'reboot' or 'reset,'" Maddon said of his motive. "This guy, give him a chance. I believe when a very good Major League player may be struggling, if he just sits and watches a Major League game being played and he understands, 'I'm one of the best at doing this,' it does something to you internally."
Maddon has done this with players in the past, and recalled Orlando Cabrera not being happy with the manager's decision. But after it happened, Cabrera said he appreciated it.
Heyward said he's keeping things simple, but added that's easier said than done.
"Just be on time, and after that, just go from there and trust yourself," he said.
"He's more on time with everything, he just is," Maddon said.
The game did not start well for Heyward, who was charged with an error on Hunter Pence's fly ball to right leading off the second inning. It was Heyward's second error of the season. The first thing he did was go to Cubs pitcher John Lackey and apologize.
"This guy is the consummate teammate on top of everything else," Maddon said.
"It was one where I was surprised that I got to the ball as easy as I did because I had to run a good ways to get there," Heyward said of the play. "Off the bat, it looked like something that would be over my head. I jumped at the end, and I didn't need to jump. It happens at times. It wasn't a careless one. I was running my tail off, and when I got there, it's like, 'Oh, I'm here, and I didn't need to jump.'"
He didn't need to say anything to Lackey.
"He's played Gold Glove defense all year," Lackey said. "He's made a lot more plays than he's missed. I'll take that guy out there every day of the week, for sure."
And so will the Cubs.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.