- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) - Chipper Jones and Jason Heyward returned to the Atlanta Braves’ lineup Tuesday for a 3-1 victory over Houston, saying their injuries felt much better after rest and injections.

Jones has a small meniscus tear in his right knee and had missed Atlanta’s two previous games. Heyward was bothered by inflammation in his right shoulder and missed six straight starts before returning to his familiar spot in right field.

Both had two cortisone shots during their layoffs to deal with the pain.

“That cortisone is a beautiful thing,” the 39-year-old Jones said. “It doesn’t feel so good the first 10 or 12 hours, but it feels wonderful after 24 hours.”

If his knee doesn’t hold up, Jones will need arthroscopic surgery. For one game, at least, he sounded as though that won’t be necessary.

“I got a stay of execution,” he said, packing his bags for a seven-game road trip that starts on the West Coast.

Heyward had been in pain since spring training and things got worse last week, when he left a game against Washington after his right hand went numb.

He underwent an MRI, which found inflammation but no major problems. Heyward entered Monday’s victory over the Astros as a defensive replacement and batted for the first time since his MRI. He hit a grounder in the eighth inning and was safe on a throwing error.

In Tuesday’s game, Heyward went 1 for 3, walked twice and stole a base.

“If I had felt something today, I would’ve had to stop,” he said. “But it felt good.”

Jones showed good mobility at third base, ranging to his left to make a couple of difficult plays look routine. But he struggled at the plate, going 1 for 5 and striking out twice in the late innings with runners aboard.

“I’m a little iffy on offense but I did what I needed to do,” Jones said. “My mechanics are a little off because I’ve been favoring my right knee. Once I get that ironed out, I’ll get back into the swing of things.”

He wanted to make sure his knee was better before the Braves left on the road trip that begins Wednesday in Arizona. If surgery was needed, he planned to remain behind in Atlanta to get the procedure done.

Jones was encouraged by the way his knee felt after hitting four times against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. The switch-hitter had to bat from the right side _ putting more pressure on his ailing knee.

“I can only go on how I feel today,” Jones said. “I feel a heck of a lot better than I did a couple of days ago.”

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