Jason Heyward grateful to return as the Dodgers roll past the visiting Reds

The Dodgers' Jason Heyward runs the bases in front of the Reds' Elly De La Cruz (44) after hitting a two-run homer

It had been 48 days since Jason Heyward last suited up for the Dodgers, 48 days since the veteran outfielder felt the adrenaline of a big-league game, heard the roar of a huge crowd and felt the rush of a 97-mph fastball coming at him. It felt like 48 days of torture.

“I hate missing games, I hate not being there with the guys, I hate not making road trips, I hate watching games on television,” said Heyward, who was activated Friday after missing almost seven weeks because of a lower-back injury.

“I missed being part of the vibe. I did my best to stay sane, to stay in the group text [chain] like crazy as soon as the games were over and we won, but I just wanted to be out there playing again.”

There was no need for text messages Friday night. Heyward was back in the thick of things for the Dodgers, getting a sunflower-seed shower and high-fives from teammates after crushing a two-run home run in the eighth inning to put the finishing touches on a 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in front of a crowd of 46,832 at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani is greeted by Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman after hitting a two-run homer

“I think the road back was hard for him, to not be able to participate,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s such a team guy and is all about his teammates. He was doing what he could to kind of keep morale up, but he was getting very antsy not playing.”

Heyward was one of three Dodgers to go deep Friday night, joining Mookie Betts, who hit the 51st leadoff homer of his career — he ranks fifth on baseball’s all-time list — to left field in the first inning, and Shohei Ohtani, who hit an opposite-field two-run shot to left — his 13th of the season — for a 3-0 lead in the third.

Ohtani spent part of Friday morning at Los Angeles City Hall, the City Council presenting the two-way star with a resolution declaring May 17 “Shohei Ohtani Day” for as long as Ohtani, who is in the first year of a 10-year, $700-million deal, plays for the Dodgers.

“He didn’t homer on his bobblehead day [Thursday night], so he was due to homer on some significant Ohtani day,” Roberts joked. “We’ll take the home run on Shohei Ohtani day. That was a ball down at the knees. To hit it the other way, to spin it really well … it was a big hit. We just marvel at what he does.”

James Paxton, who had more walks (22) than strikeouts (15) in 25 ⅔ innings of his first five games this season, delivered his second straight start of six innings and zero walks to position the Dodgers for the win. The veteran left-hander gave up three earned runs and seven hits and struck out two in his 92-pitch no-decision.

“Every player is going to say they compete, but this guy just sort of wills himself to success,” Roberts said of Paxton. “He got two ground-ball double plays that kept his pitch-count down. … Even without his best stuff, he goes deep in games and takes care of our bullpen.”

Paxton left after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh inning with the score tied 3-3, a deadlock the Dodgers broke with two runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings.

Kiké Hernández led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to center field off reliever Fernando Cruz. Betts struck out, and Ohtani grounded to first baseman Jeimer Candelario, who threw to second for the second out.

Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz didn’t have a chance to double up the speedy Ohtani, but he fired a throw toward first base anyway. Bad decision. The errant throw sailed into the camera well next to the first-base dugout, allowing Ohtani to take second.

Read more: Dodgers pitcher Emmet Sheehan has season-ending Tommy John surgery

The Reds opted to walk Freddie Freeman intentionally to pitch to Will Smith, who smacked a first-pitch fastball into center field for an RBI single and a 4-3 lead. Freeman went from first-to-third on the hit and scored on a wild pitch for a 5-3 lead.

“It’s an open base, so you sort of pick your poison,” Roberts said of Cincinnati’s decision to walk Freeman to face Smith, the cleanup batter. “But to me, if you’re going to pitch to Will, I’ll take our chances any day.”

Andy Pages hit a one-out single to left off Reds closer Alex Díaz in the eighth, and Heyward followed with a towering two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole for a 7-3 lead.

“It’s huge to have an at-bat like that, to add on — it keeps the pressure off of us,” said Heyward, who is in his 15th big-league season. “It was a great at-bat by Andy in front of me, and it was nice to keep a slider fair, to not pull it foul. It’s just awesome to be back out there, in the game. I never take that for granted.”

Michael Grove, Blake Treinen and Daniel Hudson each pitched scoreless innings of relief for the Dodgers, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Read more: Dodgers don’t go with bullpen game after all but still fall to Giants and Logan Webb

Paxton gave up Spencer Steer’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning, Stuart Fairchild’s solo homer in the fifth and Tyler Stephenson’s score-tying solo homer in the sixth.

“I was just trying to attack the strike zone,” said Paxton, who relied almost exclusively on his 93-mph fastball and 81-mph knuckle-curve. “I didn't feel like I had my best stuff tonight, but we battled and made pitches when we had to and they were putting the ball in play at guys.”

Sticky situation

Roberts said he was “a little irritated” when crew chief Bill Miller, the plate umpire for Thursday night’s game, summoned the other three umpires to check the throwing hand of Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow for sticky substances as the right-hander came off the mound after the second inning of a 7-2 loss to the Reds.

Glasnow had a dark spot on the thumb and some discoloration in the palm of his hand, but the umpires did not detect any illegal substances.

“The point of the rule is to prevent sticky substances, so if your hand is not sticky, then I see no problem,” Roberts said. “If there’s an issue with just discoloration and it’s not sticky, then there will be a problem [with such extreme checks], because that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Sticky stuff is what we’re trying to guard against.”

Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers the ball from the mound against the Cincinnati Reds
Dodgers pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers the ball from the mound against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Glasnow said his hand is discolored every time he throws off the mound, in a bullpen workout or a game, because he mixes rosin with a baseball that is rubbed in dirt. But he was not as perturbed by the sticky stuff check as Roberts was.

“[Miller] came up and said, ‘Hey, I need the other umpires to check,’ and I'm like, ‘That's fine, what's the problem?’ ” Glasnow said on Friday. “He goes, ‘It's just black.’ And I was like, ‘Is it sticky?’ And he goes, ‘No, it's not sticky.’ And then [the other umpires] came up and checked and they said it’s fine, it’s just black.”

Did Glasnow become nervous when Miller called for backup?

“No, because I know there was no sticky stuff on my hand,” Glasnow said. “I think if you ever look or zoom in on any pitcher who uses rosin on the baseball, your hand will have the ink of the baseball and the dirt on the baseball on the hand in some way. So I wasn't necessarily worried. There was no substance. It was just black.”

Sign up for more Dodgers news with Dodgers Dugout. Delivered at the start of each series.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.